Australian Road Cycling has launched a new Australian domestic squad which has big aspirations. ARC director Benjamin Fitzmaurice plans on registering the outfit as a Continental squad for 2009, with the aim of forming the base for a ProTour outfit further down the track.
"The squad is the first team to be released by Australian Road Cycling and is the first phase of its cycling program and evolution," said Fitzmaurice.
The team's launch was attended by some high-profile guests, including Australian sports minister Kate Ellis and Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredricks. The squad also had some words of support from Slipstream Sports CEO Doug Ellis, who Cyclingnewsrevealed as the secret backer behind the Jonathan Vaughters-run Professional Continental squad in 2006.
"We are thrilled to see the progress our friends at Australian Road Cycling have made with their program," said Ellis. "At Slipstream Sports we understand the value of establishing a solid and ethical base for a young cycling program. Today ARC is putting just such a base in place. We look forward to watching their success and welcome the opportunity to partner with them in the future."
ARC announced the seven riders which will make up its domestic squad this year ahead of its planned graduation to a continental team in 2009. Australian Institute of Sport head coach Shayne Bannan spoke enthusiastically of the team's formation and its ambitions for the future.
"An Australian professional cycling team will be the next big thing in sport," said Bannan. "ARC has the organisation and structure to make the first Australian pro team a reality. I congratulate ARC on the launch of the ARC Domestic Squad. I am sure that this will be the first phase of a successful and sustainable cycling program."
Like Ellis' Slipstream squad, ARC's outfit is dedicated to ensuring it has a credible and clean approach to racing. With this in mind it has become the only sporting team in the world with its own ethics committee, which will be chaired by former Supreme Court Justice, Bill Gillard QC.
Australian Road Cycling Domestic Squad riders: Andrew Stalder, Calvin Watson, Nick Aitken, Stuart Smith, Rick Sanders, Peter Johnstone and Patrick Lane.