Discovery Channel is in its last year of sponsorship of Johan Bruyneel’s team, which is now hunting
PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM Discovery finishes at end of ’08 The Discovery Channel cycling team is in search of a new sponsor after Discovery Communications revealed that it wouldn’t be supporting the squad beyond the end of this season. Discovery Communications said that the decision to pull out came after recent changes in its management. Last November, David M. Zaslav took over as CEO, and the president of Discovery’s US TV networks, William M. Campbell III, resigned a week ago. Campbell helped start the sponsorship of the team three years ago. “We have decided to aggressively shift our focus and resources to support our core business goals and objectives,” said Discovery Communications in a statement. Both Discovery Communications and the team’s management company, Tailwind Sports, said that the choice had nothing to do with the doping problem in cycling. But one of the team’s co-owners, Bill Stapleton, admitted in an interview with the New York Times that several of the lower level sponsors had “expressed their displeasure and doubts about continuing,” even though none of them had asked to pull out of their contracts. Stapleton also said that finding a new sponsor willing to fund the team to the tune of over $15 million a year was not easy in the current climate. “Right now, it’s an easy ‘no’ because of everything that has gone on in the sport,” he said. “The good news is we have plenty of time. We have a number of target companies, and we’ve already talked with some of them. But I think it could be more difficult than the last time.” Discovery Channel started sponsoring the team as a co-sponsor in 2004, then took over from US Postal Service as the main sponsor in 2005. The retirement of Lance Armstrong after seven Tour de France victories left a large hole in the line up, and Discovery predictably struggled last year. The signing of Ivan Basso at the end of 2006 could turn that around this year, if the Italian star can produce the form that saw him completely dominate the 2006 Giro d’Italia. Young Australian racer in coma 22 year-old Matthew Rex, from South Australia, is in a coma after being hit by a car driven by his friend and training partner, Chris Jongewaard. According to The Advertiser, Rex was riding near Normanville after celebrating his birthday with several friends at a pub. The accident happened at approximately 9:00pm on Saturday night, but no details were reported by the paper. Rex suffered “severe head injuries” and is in a coma in the intensive care unit of the Flinders Medical Centre. Rex was a member of Team O’Grady, a development team sponsored by South Australian cycling hero Stuart O’Grady. Jongewaard is a top mountain biker turned road cyclist from the area, and is due to travel to the USA in March to race with a team over there. He was breath tested by police after the accident. Australian teams for Manchester World Cup Cycling Australia has announced the riders that will take part in the last round of the UCI Track World Cup Classics series being raced in Manchester, England from February 23rd to 25th. Australia will be represented by a national team as well as SouthAustralia.com-AIS. National team Kristine Bayley (WA) Jack Bobridge (SA) Mitchell Docker (VIC) Daniel Ellis (ACT) Mark French (VIC) Belinda Goss (TAS) Leigh Howard (VIC) Ben Kersten (NSW) Bradley McGee (NSW) Anna Meares (QLD) Travis Meyer (WA) SouthAustralia.com-AIS Ryan Bayley (WA) Shane Perkins (VIC) Scott Sunderland (WA) Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.