For Avanti Racing Team, the start to 2014 has been impressive with Brenton Jones' break through win at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic followed by Taylor Gunman's time trial win at the New Zealand Championships and podiums at the Australian Championships ensured the team defend their Oceania Tour title. The victory gives Avanti the opportunity to race at the World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain later this year.
While not an official team victory, Avanti had five riders selected for the UniSA squad at the Tour Down Under and it was Jack Haig who impressed on his WorldTour debut by claiming the best young rider classification. Jones missed out on a UniSA spot but backed up his bay crits victory with a stage win at the NZ Cycle Classic to add another win to the team’s January tally.
After his exploits in South Australia, Haig turned his attention to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour where he excelled in claiming another best young rider classicisation win along with third overall to take any real or perceived pressure off the often understated giant killers.
"We know this year is going to be tough but there really isn't any pressure to repeat last year’s results." said team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston
"Budget Forklifts have recruited well and with new continental team African Wildlife Safaris coming on the scene it will be a much closer competition. Then you have the Drapac factor.
"Continental teams are used to racing Pro-Conti teams at UCI level but for the NRS teams it not very fair. We've obviously managed to beat them a few times already this season so we aren't too concerned but you'd have to say the NRS is theirs to lose."
At the recent Oceania Championships in Toowoomba, Queensland saw the conclusion of this year's round where Joe Cooper’s time trial win was the team highlight. Strong rides by Campbell Flakemore (2nd U23 TT) and Brenton Jones (3rd Elite Men's RR) secured enough points for Avanti Racing to top the competition on 174 points followed by Drapac 2nd on 156 points and Budget Forklifts 3rd on 111 points.
The regional win entitles Avanti Racing Team the opportunity to compete in the World Team Time Trial Championships in Spain, an honour they have received for the second year running.
"We had to turn it down last year as we just didn't have the budget" said Christie-Johnston. "We still don't really have the budget but we are talking to our sponsors to see what's possible as we'd really like to go over there and show what we can do."