By Paul Verkuylen
Australian Road Cycling (ARC) received a boost overnight when it was announced that it has the full support of Cycling Australia in its plans to have a ProTour team racing by 2010.
"We've come to the agreement that we'll get a working group moving forward and we're happy to play a role in that," Cycling Australia chief Graham Fredericks told the Canberra Times.
"There is a memorandum of understanding saying we'll work together and we'll help each other but it's very simple."
For the past few months ARC has been busy implementing the first phase of its greater plan to have a ProTour team in 2010. A development squad which has the support of the Victorian Institute of Sport and head coach Dave Sanders will be presented at the end of the month in Melbourne. The team will be made up primarily of younger riders between 16 and 20 years of age.
A continental team is planned for the 2009 season and will serve as the feeder team for the planned ProTour squad in 2010. ARC is compiling the necessary documentation for the International Cycling Union (UCI), which needs to be submitted by October 31, 2008.
Preliminary discussions with Alain Rumpf, the UCI's ProTour manager at the Tour Down Under in January, proved positive, with Rumpf expressing his support for the squad and an Australian ProTour team in general.
"I think that we have the talent to be the best in the World," Benjamin Fitzmaurice, ARC director told Cyclingnews. Fitzmaurice explained that talks have already begun with some high profile Australian cyclists, for inclusion in the ProTour squad.
The teams main sponsors are primarily foreign, due in part to a lack of financial commitment from Australian based businesses. Malaysian sports drink company, Rhino Two Horns, has come on board as the main sponsor while Singapore Airlines are also involved in the project.
"Most of the sponsors we have are on board with a view to being part of the ProTour team in the future. But of course some will change as the team gets bigger," Fitzmaurice explained.