Drapac Professional Cycling is aiming for big things in the next two years as the Australian team builds on another successful season of racing in Asia, Europe and Australia. Uniquely, and unlike fellow Australian continental teams Genesys Wealth Advisers, Budget Forklifts and V Australia, Drapac has put a premium on success in Asia, an area the team sees as an "emerging frontier of the sport".
The team's goal to become "Asia's most dominant cycling team by 2013" may seem ambitious, but if one considers just how far Drapac has come since its inception in 2004, that objective may not be quite as farfetched as it would seem. Growing from a domestic outfit focused on wins at races like the Canberra Tour in its early years to a truly international brand boasting success in the well respected like the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, the Tour of Taiwan and the Tour de Okinawa.
The increased success has come all while nurturing several young athletes through their tertiary studies. "Champion athletes into champion people" is the team's long-time motto and new team manager Jonathan Breekveldt insists that the team will not be compromising on that as it plans its Asian assault.
"We have some big goals and aims, and of course to achieve that, it will mean we’ll need to expand our roster with more full time riders," Breekvedlt told Cyclingnews. "But we’ll always have the support structure there for our younger guys, the philosophy we’ll always remain the same."
"It’s very important to Michael [Drapac] that we do maintain that philosophy going forward. Everyone’s very surprised and impressed when they hear about what we do with a roster of mixed full time and part time riders. Especially teams overseas. But it's something we strongly believe in."
At least part of the reason the team has been able to pursue both of their objectives is down to the injection of extra funds into the team's growing war chest from cycling apparel brand Netti. Breekvedlt said that the Netti's involvement had allowed the team to expand their roster for next year, and expand their racing program.
Four full-time riders Floris Goesinnen, Darren Lapthorne, Rhys Pollock, and Peter Thompson, and the addition of an official NRS based feeder team are part of moves that help to build on the professionalism of the burgeoning team.
The core of young stars have also re-affirmed their commitments to the team with Lachlan Norris, Tom Palmer, and Adam Phelan, all on the cusp of pursuing professional careers in the sport. Breekvedlt explained that with most of this season's team re-signing and the addition of a handful of new riders there was no reason to suggest that the team could not aim for bigger results next year.
"I think what we did really well this year was being consistent throughout the long season. We started in January and we were still getting results in the middle of November.
"That’s always a tall ask for the riders but I think they did a great job of holding and managing their form throughout the season, and with a bit of tweaking will be able to do even better next year."
Training Camp and Buninyong
The team is currently preparing for the 2012 season with their annual pre-season camp. Though the Asian racing calendar is of course a major objective, the camp is being used to hone the form of the riders on the roster targeting a result at the Mars Australian Road Championships in January, something Drapac still sees as of high importance to their Australian presence.
On two occasions previously the team has upset the "favourites" to take the jersey and Breekvedlt argues that despite the presence of what could be a seventeen strong GreenEdge squad, it was not going to be a fait accompli that the probable WorldTour squad would take home the win.
"Buninyong is a fair course, and it always extracts the best rider on the day. I think GreenEdge will be highly motivated to win it. It’ll be a really big objective for them to get the win there and take the jersey to Europe.
"But you only have to look at the year that Macca [Peter McDonald] won it, he was riding two against one and he still managed to come through with the jersey. The same can be said for Darren. There will be plenty of teams in the same boat and with Darren back riding full time anything is possible."
Breekvedlt also confirmed the team would be continuing for at least two more full seasons.
Drapac Cycling Team for 2012: Patrick Drapac, Floris Goesinnen (full time), Stuart Grimsey, Darren Lapthorne (full time), Lachlan Norris, Thomas Palmer, Adam Phelan, David Pell, Rhys Pollock (full time), Malcolm Rudolph, Amir Rulsi, Adam Semple, Stuart Shaw, Peter Thompson (full time).