GreenEdge back out of Spanish cycling deal

A curious World Tour sponsorship arrangement has been pulled by GreenEdge owner Gerry Ryan ahead of the tour's return in August.

Australia's only World Tour cycling team GreenEdge will return in the Mitchelton-Scott colours after backtracking on a controversial Spanish sponsorship deal.

A deal struck last week with Francisco Huertas's Manuela Fundacion would have seen the team race in a new strip in an arrangement many viewed as the beginning of a shift of operations to Spain.

But owner Gerry Ryan shut it down on Friday, while also guaranteeing a return to full wages for riders and staff once the tour resumes in August.

"We felt a strong initial connection with Mr Francisco Huertas, the Manuela Fundacion and their noble aims," Ryan said in a statement.

"However, as the negotiations have evolved after the initial announcement on Friday, we have concluded that the relationship will not proceed.

"We wish Mr Francisco Huertas and the Manuela Fundacion all of the best for the future."

The Mitchelton-Scott finances have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with Ryan's Mitchelton Winery the team's primary sponsor since the start of 2018.

Few details came attached when the not-for-profit Spanish foundation emerged as an unlikely investor this month.

But claims from the foundation's sports director Emilio Rodriguez that they would assume ownership of the Australian team at year's end didn't sit well with Ryan, who told Ride Media on Wednesday that the "the release (of the sponsorship arrangement) probably went a bit early".

He pledged to support the team as they resumed the search for a "suitable sponsorship".

"The COVID-19 global crisis has thrown up many new challenges, but our primary focus remains on our world-class athletes and support staff," Mr Ryan said.

"We believe in this team, and the people and culture that have made it so successful these past eight years.

"Our riders have been inspiring in their commitment and motivation in what has been an uncertain season, and our staff loyal and determined to provide the best service possible in what will be a busy and challenging end to the year.

"We can't wait to get back on the road and start winning more races."


AAP