Andy Swain has disbanded his ground-breaking semi-professional Metaltek cycling team after a big-money sponsorship deal fell through at the 11th hour.
The Melton-based team forged a unique niche in the domestic cycling scene as they consistently threatened Britain’s big money UCI teams.
But when ambitions to take the team to the next level, and UCI status, were thwarted, Swain knew it was time to step back.
Encouraging talks with big-money backers, including Soreen, fizzled out, while a merger with Catford CC Equipe Banks, the team owned by Jeff Banks, was cancelled by the fashion designer in December.
“After that I thought I can’t be bothered anymore,” he said.
“I’ve been getting a bit disillusioned with the sport in this country. There is a lot of politics and the bigger races are not getting the kudos attached to them.
“There are a lot of little teams flooding social media shouting about winning little races, and sponsors are going to them.
“It’s skewing things, and it isn’t going to change.”
Swain also expects to be kept busy by the arrival of his first child next month, the happy culmination of a long and difficult journey, on top of the day-to-day commitments of running his business.
“It’s sad in a way, but good because we did what we wanted to achieve and Emma and I are having a baby,” he added.
“There is no way it could continue with the same format because I just wouldn’t have the time to do it.”
But this may not be the end of the road for Metaltek.
Team captain Dan Fleeman has retired, and Swain has agreed to continue supporting up-and-coming Old Dalby rider Tom Chandler this year, while the rest of his riders have found replacement teams.
However, Swain hopes that spending the season away from the sharp end of the circuit could give him time to launch a more concrete bid for a return as a UCI team.
“It is not dead in the water, and you never say never,” he said. “But it would need to be bigger and mean moving on to that next level of ambition.
“To top what we have done would probably mean upgrading to UCI so we could try and qualify for the Tour de Yorkshire and those types of races, but to do that you need paid riders and employees.
“Even though we were an amateur team which ran professionally, it would mean moving on to total professional.
“From a budget of 75 grand to make that step-up you need £250,000 to £300,000.
“Once Emma and the baby are settled then probably at the start of summer I’ll see how realistic we can make this.”
Swain set up Metaltek in 2012 having got the taste for management while co-sponsoring the Cycle Premier Team.
Having seen the workings of elite British domestic cycling he set out on a mission to prove success was not reliant on unrealistic budgets.
Metaltek were quick to ruffle feathers and bloody noses as they mixed it with the handful of elite UCI teams in the UK’s top road race series.
And they capped a six-year adventure with a thrilling success at Swain’s hometown race, the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic last April.
Seeing off the challenges of the best of British and Continental teams, Fleeman used his World Tour experience to snatch a brilliant win.
But the culmination of a dream came at a price.
“It is still the best day of my life, but there was always going to be that bitter after-taste of how do we top this,” Swain explained.
“We did create a platform all of our own behind the UCI teams and massively in front of everyone else, to the point where UCI teams looked at us as one of them.
“They looked at us as a contender and a threat; I knew you didn’t need 250,000 to do that.”