By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
On Thursday we heard from the American Bicycle Group regarding the disbanding of Team Tomac. On Friday Johnny-T himself checked in to explain what happened.
“It recently became financially impossible for me to field a pro team for the 2002 season,” Tomac wrote in an e-mail. “The reasons being that sufficient funding from not only the main sponsor of the team (American Bicycle Group/Parent company to Tomac) have along with other industry sponsors, had to cut back on sponsorship dollars to the point where putting together a reasonable operating budget for Team Tomac was not possible.
“Things looked reasonable in the fall but things deteriorated in later December and early January to the point that I was forced to have to pull the plug on the program. American Bicycle Group will focus its racing efforts in a more cost-effective manner through a grassroots program and attending more regional and festival oriented events.”
Tomac also praised the diligence of his two riders, Rich and Gary Houseman, who are now left to seek out new sponsors just two months before the start of the season.
“I appreciate greatly the past efforts of both Rich and Gary Houseman as team riders and also applaud them for their loyalty in waiting on my efforts to form the team from year to year,” Tomac wrote. “Unfortunately they were simply caught in the crossfire of the current financial strain that the mountain-bike industry is in. I would highly recommend both Rich and Gary as additions to anyone’s race programs or anyone looking to sponsor individual riders.”
As for Tomac himself, he still plans on making his way to the races.
“I personally will still be attending race events but for now it simply will not be the same as it has in the past,” he wrote. “I will see you at the races and you can bet I will be smiling when Rich and Gary take up podium space regardless of what jersey they are riding in.”
One source close to the downhilling brothers said that while Rich Houseman is still pursuing other opportunities, Gary Houseman has apparently decided to leave the bike-racing business.