By Steve Frothingham
Rock Racing team owner Michael Ball said Friday that his team earned an invite to the Tour de Georgia based on just one simple condition.
“They said, ‘can you conduct yourselves in a way that doesn’t freak us out?’ ” Ball said in a conference call with reporters.
He said that at Georgia he will not be accompanied by the Hollywood-style entourage that followed him at the Amgen Tour of California. He also said the team would not bring podium girl models to Georgia, although he said that’s because the models were unavailable, not because of his promise to avoid freaking anyone out.
Rock Racing had filed suit against the race when it was not invited, but dropped the suit this week when the race announced that the Saunier Duval team was not going to attend and that Rock Racing would fill the spot.
At the same time, Rock Racing was named as a Founding Sponsor of the race. Ball said his company’s sponsorship of the race was not a condition of its invitation.
“I know it could appear that way,” Ball said. “My intention is to support cycling. This is another great American tour and from the get go we have tried to get involved.”
Ball promised that his team, led by overall contender Oscar Sevilla, would put on a great show at Georgia. He also announced that the team has picked up a new sponsor, Yamaha, and that the company’s motorcycles would be seen “cruising around at the race.”
“There are so many ways to spin this,” he told reporters. “I think it’s going to be awesome.”