Leaked contract shows Manuela Fundación tried to buy Mitchelton-Scott for €7 million

The failed takeover of the Australian squad, now called Team BikeExchange, caused confusion in June last year

Team BikeExchange
(Image credit: Getty)

A leaked contract shines a light on the supposed deal for the Manuel Fundación to take over WorldTour outfit Mitchelton-Scott in June 2020, an episode that caused much confusion across the cycling world.

Revealed to Spanish newspaper Marca, the deal allegedly valued Mitchelton-Scott, now called Team BikeExchange, at €6,980,000, with the Manuela Fundación planning to become the main sponsor and "100%" owner. 

The deal stated the entire Mitchelton-Scott structure would be transferred from the Australian team's owner, Gerry Ryan, to the Granada-based organisation, with the team's kit and vehicles bearing their colours and name until at least the end of the year. The deal seemed done but the Manuela Fundación had not purchased the UCI licence that was still owned by Ryan, allowing him to pull out of the deal at the last minute, and even after the team had gone public with the news.

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Marca claims the breakdown of this deal alerted other WorldTour outfits to Manuela Fundación's supposedly deep pockets, the newspaper printing a photo of Francis Huertas, the organisation's signatory on the leaked deal, at a restauarant in the Costa del Sol with Deceuninck - Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere a few months after the Mitchelton-Scott deal fell through. Huertas was apparently trying to negotiate a price tag of €8 million for the Belgian team.

While that conversation evidently amounted to nothing, the Manuela Fundación has instead opted to start from the bottom, acquiring a UCI Continental licence to race next year.

At the time of the original announcement of Manuela Fundación's involvement with Mitchelton-Scott, a press release from the team said the deal was a "long-term" agreement, calling it "welcome news" during the difficult economic environment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

BikeExchange have also recently called an end to talks with Premier Tech, according to Cycling News, the Canadian company that sponsored Astana this season.

The company was apparently willing to invest €5 million but wanted a 50 per cent stake in return, which Gerry Ryan was seemingly unhappy to agree to.

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.