Mike Northey's win at the New Zealand Criterium Championships in Auckland on Saturday might be the last ride by anyone in Pure Black Racing colours.
The fledgling New Zealand cycle team is broke and business director Greg Cross informed riders yesterday that they can probably start looking for another employer.
Pure Black competed with distinction on the United States professional circuit this year but Cross said there would be no repeat in 2012.
He had hoped the necessary money to fund another campaign would be found, but when talks with a potential sponsor broke down last week Cross had no choice but to admit that the team was unlikely to be riding anywhere.
He said some thought had been given to continuing on at a domestic level. But given that Pure Black had been set up with the express intention of taking New Zealand's best young riders to the world, that would basically defeat the team's purpose.
"At the end of the day the things we can control are putting together a great team, riding professionally and setting high professional standards and winning, and I think you'd admit we achieved that this year," Cross said.
"The fact that Europe's on the brink of falling over and the fact that the Christchurch earthquakes happened and the amount of money that went into Rugby World Cup, they're all things that are outside of our control.
"But at the end of the day they have an impact and I really don't know what will happen next," he said.
Cross is still hopeful that a sponsor will be urged into supporting the team because he and fellow Pure Black founder Carl Williams no longer can.
Wairarapa-based Pure Black rider Scott Lyttle said news of the team's demise wasn't completely unexpected and he was looking at opportunities "on and off the bike".
Launched last year amid much fanfare, Pure Black talked themselves up, saying the team would ride in the Tour de France by 2015.
Many scoffed at that, but the team's subsequent criterium and tour results in the US this year turned some doubters into believers.
Now Northey's defence of the national title won by Pure Black team-mate Tim Gudsell a year ago appears as if it will mark the end of the Tour de France dream.
- © Fairfax NZ News