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Budget shortfall forces 303 Project to cut back 2019 calendar

The Colorado-based Continental team was counting on a sponsor for 2019. That fell through, leading to a $350,000 shortfall.

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The Colorado-based 303 Project Continental team is on the hunt for additional sponsorship money after an expected partner backed out for 2019. Team director Nicholas Greeff says he had planned to expand the team’s racing calendar with a number of international events next season, but that the budget shortfall could derail those ambitions.

“I had a decent-sized partner that withdrew and kind of left me in the dark,” Greeff told VeloNews. “It’s not going to affect the ability of my team to exist, but it’s going to affect the ability of what we can actually do as a team.”

According to Greeff, the late withdrawal of a potential sponsor leaves the squad short around $350,000 of his expected 2019 budget, in what is already a challenging climate for domestic teams hunting for sponsors. While Greeff continues to look for a partner willing to make a commitment of that magnitude, he says he is now looking bring multiple smaller sponsors onboard to close the gap.

Greeff’s plan for 2019 had included several international races, with the prospective calendar including the Vuelta a San Juan, a number of races in Asia including the UCI 2.HC-rated Tour of Qinghai Lake, and a possible stint in Europe. That expanded calendar might be off the table, however, unless the team is able to find the dollars.

“We still have the ability to do them if our financial situation changes in the short term,” Greeff told VeloNews, “but in my head, I’ve kind of committed to the North American calendar.”

303 Project rode at the UCI Continental level for the first time in 2018. The squad’s most notable result was a stage win from Griffin Easter at the Tour de Beauce. The team’s calendar was focused on North American events this past season, with participation in most of the domestic UCI races, including the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and the Colorado Classic.

Greeff founded the team with the hope of building toward a larger project focused on community engagement in the health and wellness space. So far that has included hosting invitational rides and partnering with learn-to-ride events, among other initiatives. Greeff hopes to expand the reach of that side of the organization as it grows.

Currently, riders and staff are not paid a salary. Greeff sees a Pro Continental upgrade as a goal for the next few years, but budget constraints have him focused elsewhere at the moment.

“I think we can make headway and really find a place within world cycling if we’re a Pro Conti program,” he said. “I’d love to do that, but we’ve got to be realistic. When you’re fighting to try to find half a million [dollars], how am I going to find three to four million?”

For now, Greeff is looking to round out a budget to operate successfully in the third division for the coming season. Barring a cash infusion this winter, Greeff expects the 2019 calendar to be similar to the one the team raced in 2018.

“That would be including Utah and Colorado,” he said. “I don’t necessarily have the dollars to do that right now, but I’m pretty sure over the course of the next 10 months I can come up with it somehow.”