Fly V Australia suffered a setback in its bid for a first division, ProTour licence today. Bjarne Riis announced his Saxo Bank team agreed to a two-year contract with Fly V's Australian, David Tanner.
"Saxo Bank-SunGard is basically a good fit for him," said Riis in a press release, "and I'm looking forward to taking part in developing his big talent."
Riis and Sports Director Brad McGee helped developed Australian Richie Porte's talent this year. Porte won the Tour of Romandy time trial in April, which led way to his breakthrough at the Giro d'Italia. In Italy, first-year professional Porte held the leader's pink jersey for three days, won the young riders classification and finished seventh overall behind Ivan Basso.
Tanner will join Tasmanian Porte and three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador next year. Saxo Bank's gain is Fly V's loss, and Tanner may prove an important loss because the third division team is trying to obtain a first division ProTour licence.
Fly V is one of 14 teams applying for the eight available first division licences. The UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) awards the licences on "sporting, ethical, financial and administrative" criteria. It bases the sporting criterion on the team's riders for the following year.
Tanner has won a stage at the Tour of Utah, the Tour de Beauce and the Cascade Classic this season.
"I'm looking forward to working together with Bradley [McGee], Bjarne [Riis] and the rest of the staff and riders," said Tanner, "who can make me even stronger."
Besides Porte, Tanner will work with one other Australian rider, Baden Cooke. Australian Stuart O'Grady, winner of the 2007 Paris-Roubaix and three stages the Tour de France, is expected to join the new Luxembourg-based team of Andy Schleck.
Fly V's Team Manager Chris White will announce the renewal of some current riders and the arrival of new riders this week. According to the French Federations's website, White has signed Canadian Svein Tuft from Team Garmin-Transitions.
The riders' names and their points will be important to the UPTC, who will award the licences on November 20.
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