Australia wants team at Tour de France by 2011
The Australian Road Cycling group is hoping to create a Team Sky-style ProTour-level squad that will compete in the 2011 Tour de France.Buoyed by positive comments made by Union Cycliste Internationale president Pat McQuaid at the Tour Down Under on Saturday, Melbourne-based ARC is set to create a professional cycling team built to compete at the very top level of the sport.
Although there are many well-known Australian riders in the pro peloton, there has yet to be an Australian team in a sport still heavily dominated by European squads.
At least half of the riders in the new team would hail from Australia in a set-up that would bear many similarities to the British-based Team Sky, which has a British title sponsor and a strong contingent of British riders. Team Sky made its ProTour debut at the Tour Down Under last week.
According to the Australian newspaper, ARC commercial director Victor Barichello met McQuaid in Adelaide at the weekend to pave the way for the first Australian ProTour team. McQuaid is said to be keen on the idea as part of the UCI's efforts to globalise the sport of road cycling.
A title sponsor must now be sought to bring the required Aus $20 million into the team.
ARC is an independent organisation separate from the Australia's governing body for cycle sport, Cycling Australia, although the two organisations would cooperate in creating a ProTour team. ARC currently runs a domestic development team consisting of Australian riders, but has been planning a European team for two years.
Tour Down Under 2010: Coverage index
Australian Road Cycling