Drapac Professional Cycling has announced three more riders to join its ranks for 2014. Travis Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano) and Adam Phelan (Drapac/Jayco-WTA) all join the Australian team as it returns to the Pro-Continental ranks.
Meyer raced as a junior with the Drapac development program in 2007 before joining the Australian Institute of Sport Road program the year after. He initially went pro with Garmin in 2010 before joining the Orica-GreenEdge team in 2012. After two years with GreenEdge the 2010 Australian Road Champion will come full circle and return to the team where it all began.
Drapac manager Jonathan Breekveldt expects that the 24-year-old will be afforded more opportunities to seek personal success with the Australian team that he has received whilst riding at WorldTour level.
"Having Travis back on the team is very exciting as he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his four years in the WorldTour," said Breekveldt. "He has always been a selfless domestique but in 2014, will be one of our key riders and have those years of riding for others repaid.
"I think we will see a rejuvenated Travis racing in events which better suit his abilities and the added motivation of being given the opportunity and support of the team to seek personal triumph."
Will Clarke has had a roller coaster ride throughout his career. The 28-year-old from Tasmania left his Genesys Wealth Advisers team in the middle of 2010 to ride as a stagiaire with AG2R La Mondiale. He soon signed a contract with Leopard-Trek for 2011 to cement his place in the WorldTour only to drop back to Pro-Continental level with Champion System in 2012. In 2013 Clarke returned to the WorldTour with Argos-Shimano and now he has been afforded an opportunity to remain a professional with the Drapac team.
"I really liked Drapac for the fact that they are a really well-respected Australian team that has been around since 2004, they are well established in the cycling world and they are really moving forward," said Clarke.
Clarke is hoping to ride with the team at the Santos Tour Down Under (TDU) next January, a race where he took a magnificent solo stage win in 2012.
"I would like to get myself in good shape for nationals in January and then the TDU and hopefully I can do well there then," Clarke explained. "Hopefully I get the chance to ride in the TDU next year; I have had quite a bit of experience there now. The TDU is my favourite race of the season, so to get the chance to race it with Drapac being an Australian team will be really an unbelievable experience and honour."
Phelan remains at the team that he has called home since 2011 after spending the majority of this season racing with the Australian Institute of Sport's World Tour Academy in Europe. The 22-year-old has performed consistently throughout the season with top ten performances at the Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt and the Royal Smilde Olympia's Tour as well as finishing second at the Gran Premio della Liberazione. Phelan has also been instrumental in helping deliver recent GreenEdge signee Caleb Ewan to countless victories.
Although excited to begin his career as a professional, Phelan remains hesitant to leave the comfort of the U23 ranks.
"Leaving under-23 level, it is almost as though you are losing a big safety net; no longer can you be categorised differently to the best riders in the world, you are the baby once again and the big wide world of professional cycling can seem pretty daunting," said Phelan. "But being able to move out of the under-23's and to a new Pro-Conti level with the familiar, positive and exciting environment that is Drapac, will make that transition far more comfortable and it is perfect for my development as rider."
With consistent time trialling and climbing performances, Phelan has the potential to develop into a strong GC prospect for Drapac in the next period of his career, and this is something that Phelan himself would like the opportunity to explore.
"I'd love to show what I can do in a tour and as a GC rider," Phelan explained. "I'm also exited to go back to some of the races in Asia. I had my first race overseas in Asia and after racing a couple seasons in Europe will be good to go back and try and get some results there."