American team boss Jonathan Vaughters has fired an early shot in the upcoming bidding war for some of Australia's best young cycling talent.
A day before the Australian-based GreenEDGE project is launched in Adelaide, Vaughters was quoted as saying he will not hesitate taking legal action if the sport's transfer rules are not followed.
Vaughters runs the Garmin-Cervelo team, whose strong Australian contingent features young guns Jack Bobridge and brothers Cameron and Travis Meyer.
GreenEDGE is certain to target the Meyers and Bobridge as it aims for a 2012 racing debut.
The new project aims to achieve the Holy Grail of Australian cycling - a locally-based team racing in the Tour de France.
Vaughters told the cyclingnews website he would take action against GreenEDGE if it tried to make a move on any of his riders before August 1.
"While I understand the strong national pride of Australians and understand the desire to have a team of their own, if any employment discussions of any sort occur with any of our riders outside of the mandated transfer time then we will pursue the appropriate legal action," he said.
Vaughters' warning comes two years after he lost another top rider to a new team with strong national connections.
After a messy battle, British rider Brad Wiggins left Garmin for Team Sky, which is based in England.
One of Vaughters' key lieutenants, team director Matt White, is another Australian at Garmin-Cervelo.
On Sunday, Cycling Australia announced that White would replace Neil Stephens in the crucial part-time role of professional men's road coordinator.
There is another likely link to GreenEDGE in this announcement, because it appears to free up Stephens to join the new project as its team director.
Stephens has held the Cycling Australia role for 12 years and it is a crucial liaison position, helping foster links between the governing body and the continually-growing number of top Australian riders competing overseas.
It is particularly vital for events such as world championships, the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, where riders compete for Australia, rather than their professional employers.
In announcing the key change, CA would only say that Stephens is "moving onto new challenges within the sport".
Shayne Bannan resigned on December 30 as CA's national performance director and he will head the GreenEDGE project.
GreenEDGE's timetable will be to have a team in operation by next year.
Bannan and Stephens are long-time friends and it is logical to assume Stephens will have a major role at GreenEDGE.
White, like Bannan and Stephens, is a veteran figure in Australian cycling.
The 36-year-old built a formidable reputation as a domestique, or support rider, and now is a team director at Garmin-Cervelo.
Other Australians riders at Garmin-Cervelo include Brett Lancaster and Matthew Wilson.