McGee-NSWIS squad looking Continental
By Anthony Tan in Lausanne, Switzerland
La Francaise des Jeux's Bradley McGee was naturally very psyched before the final stage of the Tour de Romandie in Lausanne last Sunday.
Up until that point, the 29 year-old had a less than ordinary performance in the Swiss ProTour event, and a good time trial would regain his confidence and motivation for what lies ahead. "I'm very disappointed with what's happened, but I know that it's not my level; there's some problems and we're looking at it now, and I'm still living off the dream that something will come off today!" said McGee to Cyclingnews an hour before his start time, a nervous chuckle following those last words.
But 26 minutes and 54 seconds after leaving the start house, the Sydneysider set the fastest time that was only bettered by a former world time trial champion and the man won the race overall, Santiago Botero, and as a consequence, his Tour dream remained intact.
With his mind and body at ease, he can now take a break as planned back at his European home in Nice, France. Unlike last year, though, McGee won't be riding the Giro d'Italia where he won the prologue and finished eighth overall in 2004; instead, he has his sights set on the big one, targeting the general classification at the Tour de France.
"It's like a new lease of life targeting general classification, which has made me sharpen my act up another level and I'm really enjoying it," said McGee. "It's the only way I want to do it... the motivation is there, the hunger is incredibly high to make good all the work I've done."
Another thing he's put plenty of effort into is his eponymously-named development squad, McGee-NSWIS. Run in conjunction with the New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) and partly funded by the La Francaise des Jeux ProTour team, the McGee-NSWIS set-up enables more riders from his home state the best opportunity and possibility of turning professional.
During the 'offy' (off-season) as he calls it, McGee realised that after talking with his brother Rod, who manages the team on a day-to-day basis back in Australia, the McGee-NSWIS coterie have been performing well beyond expectations, and believes the time is ripe to turn the team, now entering its fourth year of operation, into something bigger and better.
If anyone thought Brad's getting ahead of himself, the proof's in the pudding: former pupil Mark Renshaw is now a fully-fledged member of La Francaise des Jeux and about to take part in his first Giro d'Italia this coming Saturday (look out for an interview with him tomorrow on Cyclingnews); and only a few weeks ago, Chris 'CJ' Sutton signed a contract with another French ProTour team, Cofidis, also winning one of the biggest amateur races in Italy, the GP Liberazione, a few weekends ago.
Said an upbeat McGee: "So the push is really on now to draw on some extra sponsorship and push the team itself from a development squad to a [Professional] Continental Team, and to hold the riders together and to race in Europe and Australia together.
"It's come about through necessity, and it's just the obvious next step. We thought it would come in the next three or four years, but the need's there now," he said.
Look out for the full interview with Bradley McGee tomorrow on Cyclingnews