Barely a month after the launch of the Continental-registered South Australia.com - AIS Cycling Team, Cycling Australia's head coach Shayne Bannan believes a place within the highest level of professional cycling - the UCI ProTour - could be attained as early as 2008.
"Australian cycling has reached the level where if there was a sponsor interested, it could happen as soon as 2008 - look at the depth of young riders we have at the moment and the depth of professionals," Bannan told AAP.
Making its debut at next week's Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, the South Australia.com - AIS Cycling Team is a collaboration of the current Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) road development program for riders under 23 years of age with the cream of Australia's track endurance squad. With additional support from the South Australian government, the driving motivation behind the team's creation is to provide an even stronger platform for emerging Australian talent, ensuring riders are well equipped before entering the highest ranks of professional cycling.
The dream of many Australian cycling fans, however, is to see an all-Australian team enter the Tour de France. "We're hoping to use this Continental team as a vehicle to tickle the imagination of potential companies out there," said Bannan, adding that the sport was well-placed to attract the sponsorship required for an Australian-registered ProTour team.