The Linda McCartney-Jacobs Creek team is no more. As reported by The Guardian and www.procyling.com, members of the worlds only vegetarian road squad yesterday travelled to London for Fridays Trafalgar Square launch only to learn their team had been disbanded.
General manager, and team founder, Julian Clark, of OC Racing, is no longer with the team. His company is reported to have debts of up to £800 000, all spent trying to prop up a team that was funded by pipe dreams rather than sponsorship cheques. Linda McCartney Foods did not put a huge amount of cash into the team: instead, Clark was hoping the cachet of the McCartney name would bring in sponsors with bigger pockets.
Team coach Sean Yates and Italian-born rider Max Sciandri tried to conduct last ditch negotiations with their food sponsor but quickly realised the situation was hopeless and that OC Racing had been operating beyond its means.
The team employs 30 people. There was good news last week when it was announced the team had signed up the British car company Jaguar as a co-sponsor. However, Sean Yates this afternoon told BikeBiz that nothing had been signed with any major sponsors.
To Jeremy Whittle, editor of ProCycling magazine, he said: ""There were lengthy talks with [Jacobs Creek wines] and we assumed that the talks would lead to a signed contract, but that didnt happen. We competed at the Tour Down Under thinking that Jacobs Creek and Jaguar were paying sponsors, but Jaguar seemed as surprised as anyone else to hear that they were sponsoring a cycling team."
The ProCycling website is withering in its coverage of the McCartney team demise: "The pop stars vegetarian foods, the chic New World wine and the Classic British car manufacturer; they all looked cool on the teams new kit; there was one big problem though nobody wanted to pay. Instead, to keep everybody happy, there were promises and more promises, until the wheels finally, irrevocably fell off."
Yates is now left high and dry:
"There's no obvious vacancy for me in professional cycling. I didn't amass enough money in my racing days to be able to not work."