Anthony Tan has been informed Pegasus should expect an answer by Tuesday, but their CEO, on a knife edge, says he still needs Cycling Australia’s help.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

My 'tale behind an award-winning tale' was going to be last Cycling Central
blog for 2010 but for the past week, the Pegasus Sports situation has
consumed me, as I'm sure it has you, and there are some words to say.

Its CEO, Chris White, and the rest of Australia, will soon be put out of the misery of this excruciating wait.

"The decision on Pegasus will likely be made on Monday or Tuesday," the UCI's press officer, Enrico Carpani, told me Sunday.

Assuming
the UCI decides to keep us in suspense till 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon in
Aigle, Switzerland, that's 4 a.m. in Sydney. Or 3 a.m. in Brisbane,
where White resides and awaits with bated breath.

Following an
eleventh-hour withdrawal by its principal sponsor, rumoured to George
Gillett Jr., to the reported tune of A$4.7M, White was forced to beg the
UCI for an extension on Pegasus' application for a Pro Continental
licence.

"Unfortunately, an agreement and an understanding wasn't honoured," White told Cycling Central.

"Any rearguard action that's potentially available to me isn't going to get the licence completed in the time that we've got."

He got an extra five days – 4 p.m. last Wednesday in Central Europe became his new submission deadline.

Given
two of those days were a weekend and understanding that courting a new
title sponsor would be as likely as Shane Warne making it through a week
without making the headlines for improper reasons, White went straight
to the source of his operating expenses, while at the same time asking
his partners to chip in a further A$1.4M, it is believed.

Most,
or all, of the latter, is said to have come from their Swiss-based
bicycle supplier, Scott, who are not unfamiliar with bail-out
situations.

Midway through 2008, when Saunier Duval pulled the
pin after Tricky Dicky Riccò decided the best way to succeed at the Tour
de France was to pump himself to the eyeballs full of EPO-CERA, Scott
and American Beef stepped in to see the team carry out the rest of their
season.

"We made some drastic measures – and they had to be made
– to keep the dream alive, to keep the licence process moving forward,"
said White.

But, he stressed, "We've got a big vacancy in terms of title sponsorship."

I
e-mailed UCI president Pat McQuaid and asked what is the principal
criteria used by the Licence Commission (which, by the way, is an
independent arm of cycling's governing body) to determine whether they
give a 'yay' or 'nay' to an application for a Pro Continental licence.

"The
criteria a team has to meet in order to get a licence (both for first
and second division, which corresponds to UCI ProTeam and UCI
Continental Professional Team respectively) are mainly based on sport,
ethics and financial aspects," Carpani said, responding on Mr. McQuaid's
behalf.

"In the case of application made by a new team – like
Pegasus is – the financial structure is fundamental: a complete budget
has to be submitted to the Licence Commission, with all sponsorships and
riders contracts as well as the requested bank guarantee.

Cycling Central asked White if the budget he submitted to the UCI, sans title sponsor, is sufficient to run a full season.

"The
funding is sufficient, given the cuts that we've had to put through the
organisation," he said but cautioned, "Clearly, over the longer-term,
those cuts aren't sustainable."

"We've got significant race
invitations already – they're all subject to having a licence, though.
Gent-Wevelgem, Amstel Gold, Eneco Tour, ASO's races in Qatar and Oman,
just to name a few. We're eagerly awaited in Europe and elsewhere; we're
seen as the premier Division 2 team, probably taking up where Cervélo
TestTeam left off."

White admitted he's already had to call on
Cycling Australia's help once before, in September, when Pegasus were
applying for a ProTeam licence. To their credit, that aid in the form of
a letter from CA's CEO, Graham Fredericks, was forthcoming, who pledged
his full support.

Now, he's asking for their imprimatur once again.

"I
think they've got better relationships than I have at the UCI. This is
our first UCI application. So, I'm calling on Cycling Australia to
assist us through their relationships to get our Professional
Continental licence issue," said White.

Added Carpani: "As soon as we will get this decision by the Licence Commission we will release it publicly."

If Cycling Australia does not make that call today, it may be too late. Right now, says White, "We're on a knife edge."