Last we heard, Baden Cooke was contemplating suing Rock Racing owner Michael Ball for the promised money from his contract worth “many hundreds of thousands of dollars”. Earlier today, Rock Racing issued a statement basically saying that the “rumors of Rock Racing’s untimely demise have been greatly exaggerated” and that the team is proceeding with a full racing schedule.
Also today, cyclingnews published an interview where Ball acknowledges that the economic downturn had a major impact and that he is funding the team out of his own pocket for the first 6 months while looking for a new co-sponsor.
From the Cooke & Ball interviews, it seems that terms were agreed verbally and a contract was drafted, Cooke signed it and returned it to the team for signature. At that point, Cooke waited and waited until he was informed that the terms had changed.
What about the bike sponsors? Well according to Ball, they do have bikes but it is not with the companies where negociations happened in the past. Last year, Rock Racing started the year with De Rosa bikes and were also in talks with Fuji.
Did other riders originally listed on the roster chose to leave the team when the new terms were offered? Only time will tell.
The interview closes with Ball stating that the team will race the Amgen Tour of California, and he mentions riders such as Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Sevilla, Victor Hugo Peña and Chris Baldwin as being tentatively on the roster. But hold on, the Tour of California is a UCI (2.HC) race and therefore only UCI teams can participate and Baldwin is not on the UCI roster for Rock Racing but on the ‘club’ team. Unless things have changed once again.
But wait, there’s more. Again according to cyclingnews, Jeremiah Wiscovitch won his court case against Rock Racing to get the value less depreciation of his training bike. Wiscovitch who raced for the team for two years was terminated at the end of 2008 right after the Tour of Missouri, and had to return his training bike. Feeling that this was in contravention of his contract, Wiscovitch took Rock Racing to court and won.