Tom Barras's proposed team hasn't been able to secure the necessary funds
The proposed team that was earmarked to replace British UCI Continental team NFTO has not secured the required sponsor and is therefore highly unlikely to go ahead.
NFTO’s 2016 team manager Tom Barras has been trying tirelessly since September to get a lead sponsor on board who would provide the £300,000 needed to ensure the team could race next season.
Despite having an unnamed title sponsor agreed, they pulled out at the beginning of November, citing the country’s economic unpredictability and uncertainty in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Barras says that if a sponsor was to promise funds within the next few weeks, he could feasibly still put a team together to compete under an elite licence.
However, he’s not wanting to operate a team on a minimal budget whereby cycling is not the profession of the riders.
“I am still working with an agent and haven’t give up but I am less and less hopeful each day,” Barras told Cycling Weekly.
“It doesn’t look like it will happen, but if a sponsor steps in, it is still very much doable. I just haven’t been able to raise the £300,000.
“What I don’t want to do is to run a team on £30,000 and it not be a professional team. But we can have an elite team if the right sponsor comes along.
“We’ve been here before. Cycling is a rollercoaster. There is only one revenue stream and that is sponsorship. If that’s not there then we can’t run a team. It’s very difficult.”
Sponsorship woes have also affected another British team of late: One Pro Cycling. They have been forced to drop down a level from Pro Continental to Continental for the 2017 season, saying that the withdrawal of Factor Bikes was the main funding shortfall.
However, in the December 8 Cycling Weekly magazine, Factor said that they had “full intentions of sponsoring both Ag2r La Mondiale and One Pro into the 2017 cycling season.
“However, due to differing views on a few key elements, Factor Bikes could not come to an agreement with One Pro Cycling.
“Factor Bikes were very clear about the expectation of OPC and its partnership and they were not able to be met.”
Neither One Pro CEO Matt Prior or joint team owner, businessman Simon Chappell, would expand on those expectations.
One Pro’s demotion meant that its riders contracts were therefore null and void, with Prior originally hoping to be able to reveal the team’s 2017 roster last Friday.
Chris Lawless, the national criterium champion who had agreed to join One Pro for next season, has since signed for Axeon Hagens Berman, one of the best U23 development teams whose latest alumni includes Londoner and 2017 Team Sky rider Tao Geoghegan Hart.