Australian Continental team looking to continue producing WorldTour riders
The Avanti Racing Team for the 2014 season has officially launched in Melbourne, Australia, on the eve of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. With all nineteen riders present at Federation Square each rider was introduced by Matt Keenan while Phil Liggett was a notable onlooker.
With the team's mission statement of sending riders to the WorldTour, co-manager Andrew Christie-Johnston was reluctant to say who would be ‘the next Riche Porte,' but remained hopeful that some of the future stars of Australia and New Zealand cycling were embedded in his roster.
"We've got quite a few guys here that can take that next step," said Christie-Johnston. "Who is going to be next? I'm not going to put my name on who that's going to be."
Christie-Johnston did, however, hint that there has been interest in some of his current crop. "Campbell Flakemore did well at the world champs last year with a fourth in the U23 time trial, I think there's quite a bit of interest in Campbell at the moment. Also with our sprinters, there is always a lot of interest in Australian sprinters, so anyone of those guys can step up.
"But for me it's not so much about anyone of them individually, as the year develops we will see the standouts, and if they can take that next step then certainly I'll be pushing hard to get them to the WorldTour."
Avanti alumni and current Garmin-Sharp riders Nathan Haas and Steele Von Hoff were also present and did not hold back their praise for the team that helped start them off.
"It's the team of all teams," said von Hoff. "The amount of riders it's developing, you just look at all the guys and they all have potential."
Haas is returning to the race that he won in 2011 with the team and spoke of his fond memories with the team racing the National Road Series. "I'm sure that when I finish cycling on a WorldTour scale I want to still be racing there because I love it," Haas said.
"I'm looking forward to the day where I get to go back and have some more fun at that level because it's just real honest racing."
And it is this potential that Avanti Group Manager Steve James wants to utilise as he attempts to grow Avanti as a team and as a brand.
"It's a great thing to be part of," said James. "When Andrew and Steve approached us we started talking and really felt the similarities between the structure and beliefs of their team and our bicycle brand Avanti.
"We hear Nathan and Steele talk about the team and as they said; there's no other team like this in the world, we're really proud to be a part of that."
The new team edition Avanti Corsa-SL has already proven it's pedigree with Brenton Jones piloting one to an overall victory at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and Jack Haig securing the best young riders jersey at the Tour Down Under aboard his new steed. But James is not one to rest on his laurels and hopes the collaboration with the team will enable Avanti to further refine their fleet.
"The philosophy that we have is rider-linked development and that's another reason for being involved with the team; we want to have the input from the riders and hear what they are saying about the bikes, so we can continue making really great bikes," James said. "We are a small brand on a global scale so being headline sponsor is a big commitment but we want to grow the brand and the team together."
One of the new recruits for 2014 is the recently crowned New Zealand time trial champion Taylor Gunman. Gunman talked about the importance of his victory, stating that "to defend the title which was previously won by a teammate, Joe Cooper, it means a lot. On a smaller detail too, to win it on an Avanti bike, a New Zealand brand, it's very special and it's very unique."
Avanti Racing Team for 2014:
Taylor Gunman, Sam Davis, Campbell Flakemore, Brenton Jones, Jack Haig, Aaron Donnelly, Scott Law, Jonathan Lovelock, Ben Dyball, Anthony Giacoppo, Neil Van Der Ploeg, Joe Cooper, Jack Beckinsale, Mitchell Lovelock-Fay, Mark O'Brien, Luke Fetch, Alex Clements, Chris Hamilton, Tom Robinson
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