Goss and Bobridge inspire Australia's new Green Edge team
Australia's first top-level cycling team, Green Edge is developing well ahead of next season. Australians Matt Goss and Jack Bobridge encouraged team boss Shayne Bannan this week with their wins.
"Australia has a fantastic structure," Bannan said today. "I am proud everyone's worked together over the last 15 years to reach this success. It does not happen overnight, it only happens when you have passionate people involved."
Bannan left his post as Cycling Australia's national performance director on December 30 to become Green Edge's team manager. Less than a month later, on January 17, announced his intention of creating an Australian first division team. He's using this year to contract riders and create the team's structure.
Though he didn't name names - that will come later in the season - Goss and Bobridge must be on the top of his wish list. Goss won the Milan-San Remo one-day classic a week ago Saturday and yesterday, Bobridge took gold in the individual pursuit. They both got their start with Bannan and the cycling programme of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
In addition, Australians Richie Porte, Allan Davis, Simon Gerrans and Stuart O'Grady have contracts that expire at the end of the year.
As with Great Britain's team Sky, Bannan will try to rely on mostly home riders, he aims for around 75 per cent.
"Whether it's achieved in the first, second or third year, we will have to confirm that later," Bannan added.
"A lot of Australians that are out of contract at the end of this year are riding for good teams, and we respect that. At the moment, we are a project, we have to gain credibility, provide a structure and provide an opportunity for riders to reach their potential. We have to be as good as current teams, we certainly have a challenge ahead of us."
Bannan explained in these days he is working on creating the team's administration and operations, which will be based in Varese, Italy.
"It's been challenging, but making sure we have the right administration and structure in place. There is a fair amount of bureaucracy involved when you are creating a structure in Europe.
"The [first division] application starts on August 1, but we have to make sure we have a structure in place prior to that. Getting trucks, buses, cars... putting staff contracts into place, making sure we have good people to move forward. Although August 1 sounds along way away, it's really around the corner."
Bannan announced last week that his Green Edge riders will ride on Scott bicycle frames. He is negotiating with other technical sponsors and plans for more announcements in April.
In January, he named Neil Stephens as his first sports director. The other sports directors and riders who will form Australia's first top division team will be announced later in the year.