A tersely worded press release from Greg LeMond and his Shadetree Sports company announced the company would terminate its sponsorship agreement with the Mercury pro cycling team, effective June 12. It is unclear at this point whether that means simply a withdrawal of equipment sponsor LeMond Bikes, or if it also means that wireless communications firm Viatel is off the team as well.
Viatel had planned on sponsoring its own Division I team this year when it merged operations with Mercury. Mercury director John Wordin is also being sued by former bike sponsor Fuji for breach of contract.
While UCI rules ensure teams hold a portion of their racer payroll in escrow (ensuring the riders get paid even if the team collapses) it's unclear at this point what the team will do for bicycles, or if they will experience other financial difficulties. The Shadetree press release said the company is looking to "energize an independent team for the next racing season." The company declined all requests for interviews, citing confidentiality clauses.
LeMond and a bunch of greedy americans stuck their hands here and screwed up many special things. Nothing new. Happens all the time with oportunists.
Fuji had a legal contract and out it went because LeMond and company.
The true blood of the team and the men behind the effort for years also took a back seat because of greedy men. Nothing new, we see many teams in the USA with good financial backing disappear and we wonder why. This is why.
Mr. Wordin and his men need to get back to the original plan, deal with Fuji as they had an agreement and get rid of all the oppornutinis greedy men that tried to make it theirs.
I am not a big fan of the team or some of their decisions but a special thing like this should not be screwed up. Period.