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Team BikeExchange has a guaranteed lifeline through at least the 2022 season.
That’s according to general manager Brent Copeland, who confirmed that longtime owner Gerry Ryan will back the Australian team for two more seasons.
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“Gerry has committed until the end of 2022. Behind that decision is also the motivation of the world championships being in Australia in 2022,” Copeland told VeloNews. “We are stable until then, and in the meantime, who knows what will come up. Like all teams, we will be looking at partners as we move along. That’s a continuous part of our job to do that. In the meantime, Gerry has given full commitment until the end of 2022.”
That confirmation from Ryan, who formed the team as Australia’s first WorldTour squad in 2012, comes as a salve following a tumultuous 2020 season.
After the coronavirus pandemic cratered parts of the world economy, the team was among several WorldTour teams to impose wage reductions. Later, the team survived a botched merger plan for Spanish partner Manuela Fundación before Ryan stepped up to keep the team firmly in Aussie hands.
The behind-the-scenes drama also saw the departure of longtime manager Shayne Bannan and another associate last summer. Under a reorganization plan, Copeland and Darach McQuaid, who joined as team CEO, lead the management team coming into 2021.
“It was a tough change, taking over from Shayne, but everyone made it easy,” Copeland said. “Gerry’s been fantastic in supporting the team, which we can all be thankful for, because, without him, we all wouldn’t be sitting here looking at the future.”
Other big changes for 2021 for the Australian team include the departure of longtime equipment and bike sponsor Scott, and the arrival of new partner Bianchi. Despite some reports of teams being left short-handed due to COVID complications with suppliers, Copeland and other staffers have been working hard behind the scenes to see the team fully equipped ahead of the season’s first races.
“We are trying to make the reality of these changes as simple as possible. Considering COVID and all the circumstances we’ve gone through, we’re sitting in a good place,” Copeland said in a video call. “We are pleased with the way things have gone. This team hasn’t changed a bike sponsor for eight years, so that’s been a big change. We’re in a good place with the bikes and the other [equipment] right now.”
Despite some of the changes, Copeland, a management veteran of several top WorldTour teams, said the Aussie vibe remains the same.
“The environment that they have been able to build within the team is something a lot of teams admire,” he said. “They’re able to find that balance between professionalism and enjoying it at the same time, so to come in here and work with them has been fantastic.”
For 2021, the men’s team largely remains intact, with the top arrivals including Michael Matthews and Tanel Kangert, with Adams Yates, Daryl Impey, and Jack Haig as the departures. The women’s team remains in the WorldTour for the second year in a row, with the exit of Annemiek van Vleuten and the arrival of Teniel Campbell for 2021.