Mitchelton-Scott’s deal with new sponsor is off after week of confusion

After a disagreement emerged about who would actually own the team, the contract is now off the table

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mitchelton-Scott surprised the cycling world earlier this month when they announced sponsor would take over the name of the squad.

The Australian WorldTour team revealed that it would be known as Team Manuela Fundacion for the remainder of the 2020 season, as a Spanish non-profit organisation came on board as part of a “long-term” agreement.

But a dispute quickly emerged between team owner Gerry Ryan and the new sponsor, as they appeared to disagree on who would actually own the team.

Ryan, the Australian businessman who owns Mitchelton Wines, told Ride Media this week that he would maintain ownership of the squad, while Manuela Fundacion believed it owned the team.

After a week of confusion Greenedge Cycling, the holding company that owns Mitchelton-Scott, announced that the deal was off.

Ryan said: “We felt a strong initial connection with Mr Francisco Huertas, the Manuela Fundación and their noble aims.

“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 Fundación all of the best for the future."

On Friday, June 12 Michelton-Scott announced that the team would be named Manuela Fundacion for the rest of 2020 and that the squad would race in a new navy and pink kit.

Very little information is available online about the foundation or its owner Francisco Huerta, while the new deal with Mitchelton-Scott prompted questions over who would own the team.

To add to the confusion the head of Manuela Fundacion’s sports department Emilia Rodriguez told Cycling News the team would be Spanish with a headquarters in Spain, but Ryan insisted he still owned the team.

After a week of confusion, the deal was eventually cancelled.

Mitchelton-Scott has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, with all riders on both the men’s and women’s teams accepting substantial wage cuts.

>>> British Cycling announces next steps in return to riding events after coronavirus lockdown 

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

“This will include a return to full wages for all riders and staff once WorldTour racing commences in August, and a commitment to the year 2021 as we search for a suitable sponsorship.

“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.”

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Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.