Road

Officials confirm Mitchelton-Scott backing through end of 2022

Renewed commitment from longtime team owner will help in contract talks.

The future of Mitchelton-Scott is secure through the end of the 2022 season.

That’s according to sport director Matt White, who revealed the detail during an SBS podcast speaking about the future of the Australian-backed men’s and women’s team. Team officials confirmed to VeloNews that more details will be revealed shortly, and added that founding team owner Gerry Ryan has assured staffers the team’s future is assured for at least two more seasons.

“The big difference and the thing that has really steadied the ship is obviously the commitment from Gerry Ryan,” White told SBS. “Everybody in the organization, young or old, everyone knows that when Gerry says something it happens.”

The news is the latest twist in an ongoing saga the past several weeks within the popular Australian team after the confirmation and sudden reversal of a new Spanish sponsor, Manuela Fundación. Last month, after seeing budget cuts across the team during the coronavirus shutdown, the team announced that the largely unknown Manuela Foundation would take over naming rights for the team, and that new racing jerseys and colors would be ready for the Vuelta a Burgos by the end of July.

At first, the arrival of new title sponsors seemed to serve as a salve for the squad, but conflicting stories and ambiguity about the nature of the deal soon saw things unravel. Ryan, an Australian businessman who founded the team in 2011, insisted that he retained ownership of the team’s license, while the new Spanish backers which included ex-pro Stefano Garzelli said they signed a deal with now-former team manager Shayne Bannan for control of the team’s future.

Ryan eventually negated the deal, and though more details have not yet been revealed, Bannan and another team associate were out, and peloton veteran Brent Copeland was named as new general manager in a behind-the-scenes shakeup. Darach McQuaid, who helped organize the highly successful “Big Start” in Belfast for the 2014 Giro d’Italia, also joined the management team.

The ongoing uncertainty rocked the team, and White said Ryan’s commitment through 2022 will help settle things down as racing is set to resume later this month.

“There was a couple of weeks there — with the story from the Manuela Foundation — there were a lot of questions that we had about that foundation,” White told SBS. “It was a bit of a shaky period, we didn’t know anything about the sponsor, anything about the guy. It’s a foundation that doesn’t exist yet, but the big steadying of the ship was the commitment from Gerry for two more years.”

The two-year commitment is important for another reason — rider contracts.

Many of the teams top stars, including the Yates brothers and world champion Annemiek Van Vleuten, are off-contract at the end of 2020, and have been linked to join such teams as Team Ineos and Trek-Segafredo. Ryan’s renewed two-year commitment will allow White and the management team to offer two-year contracts, an important marker as most riders don’t want to sign one-year deals with many of its existing riders and new recruits.

“I think you’ll see in our team (men’s team) and the women’s team, a very similar line-up for the next few years,” White told SBS. “There won’t be many changes with staff or riders, and we’re looking forward to be getting back on the road and winning again.”

The men’s team is slated to race at the Burgos tour later this month in Spain, while the women’s team also revs up in Spain with a pair of one-day races.