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MILAN (VN) — Swiss WorldTour team IAM Cycling continues to search for a co-sponsor to increase its budget, but it’s also considering an early exit from cycling. Nothing is certain until mid-May, says owner and manager Michel Thétaz.
Thétaz began the team in 2013 and took it to the WorldTour two years later. With demands high at that level, however, he needs another backer to augment his $13 million budget.
“I always said to the riders and staff that I will give it until Mid-may to decide,” Thétaz said to VeloNews after returning from a recent ski trip.
“I will take everything into consideration. In theory, we could stop the team. Yes, but we could also continue for 20 years. We have to be realistic.”
The Swiss businessman began the team to support his company, Independent Asset Management (IAM). In 2013, the squad began with a modest $7.5 million budget in the second division. With its spot in the WorldTour, though, the stakes have risen.
“It’s a lot of my money? I like it. It’s good for IAM, the product, good for me, and good for the cyclists. But we have to continue to progress,” Thétaz added.
“The key thing is continuing to grow. If not, it’s money down the drain for a sponsor.
“I want to still find a co-sponsor and get credibility and visibility for the team. The riders want to win. We are close to some big wins, but we need resources to pull it off.
“The big teams have budgets around 20 million euros ($22.65 million). You see the difference. We are ranked 12th in the WorldTour, but if we had big money, 20 million, then we could be up there with the top teams.”
Australian Heinrich Haussler pulled off one of his best performances last week in Paris-Roubaix and brought the team a sixth-place result. The team counts four wins already this year, more than other WorldTour teams Cannondale, LottoNL – Jumbo, Ag2r La Mondiale, Lampre – Merida, and Giant – Alpecin.
“I’m proud of the team’s spirit, the way the team works together for one. They do that better than some of the big budget teams,” added Thétaz.
“And last year, we put a Swiss, Mathias Frank, in the top 10 of the Tour de France. It’s been 17 years since we’ve had a Swiss in the top 10.”
To continue riding at the top level, IAM Cycling needs either a co-sponsor or “resources” soon. Without one, and with a couple of other teams jockeying for 2017 WorldTour spots, Thétaz may need to reconsider. He is giving himself one month.