Uncertainty surrounds Nicole Cooke's new team
After a difficult year in which she took over and then relinquished the Vision 1 Racing team, Nicole Cooke faces an uncertain few weeks after it was revealed that Skyter, the sponsor of the team she hoped to ride for in 2010, had pulled out.
Skyter Shipping, a company which sells and charters luxury yachts, was all set to take over the title sponsorship of the German Nürnberger team in time for the 2010 season.
For Cooke, the reigning Olympic road race champion, the team represented a fresh start and a return to a top European-based pro team after a year with the Halfords Bikehut team in 2008 and the difficulties of 2009.
According to a press release issued by the team, Skyter said that additional sponsors which had agreed to share the burden of funding the team had failed to meet their obligations and Skyter was unable to carry on alone.
The team was on the look-out for a new sponsor after insurance firm Nürnberger withdrew following 10 years of sponsorship.
Unless Skyter can be forced by the team to cover the contract a new sponsor will be needed or the team faces closure. Cooke, the German Trixi Worrack and America's Amber Neben would be desirable signings for other pro teams, even at this late stage, but the team's 11 other riders face an uncertain few weeks.
Cooke has ridden for an Italian team Acca Due-O in 2002 and 2003, which became Safi Pasta in 2003. In 2006 and 2007 she rode for Univega Raleigh Lifeforce, which was called Raleigh Lifeforce in the second season. It was reported she was on the verge of a move to T-Mobile (which would be named High Road after the sponsor's withdrawal) for Olympic year, but joined the Halfords team which was a project set-up by British Cycling with the specific goal of giving her the best chance winning the Games. When the Halfords team ended, she joined Vision 1 Racing, taking over the running of the team from Stefan Wyman. The team folded mid-season and Cooke raced for Great Britain again.
Meanwhile, Britain's other top riders, Emma Pooley, Lizzie Armitstead and Sharon Laws will all ride for Cervélo TestTeam in 2010.