Australia's Drapac Porsche Development Program is taking another step forward this year with the creation of a Continental team, becoming the fourth outfit in Australia to register as one. The Drapac Porsche continental team will provide the "natural next step" for its U23 development program riders, and will provide an environment for nurturing the professional aspirations of young riders such as Mitch Docker, who as a guest rider for AG2R finished 8th in the 2005 Herald Sun Tour.
DPDP principal Michael Drapac said, "For young Australian cyclists aspiring to a career in the European professional ranks, the most difficult time is the first year away from home. What we are providing with our Continental team is a bridge to Europe, with riders gaining invaluable experience of different cultures and the challenges of racing away from the familiar surroundings of home."
The team boasts the 2005 UCI Oceania tour winner Rob McLachlan, former Herald Sun Tour KOM winner Phil Thuaux, and Tour of Korea runner up Stuart Shaw. Each of these riders has been selected for the team on the basis of their fit with the Drapac Porsche philosophy of developing riders in various facets of their lives: McLachlan is a school teacher, Thuaux a final year engineering student and Shaw a draftsman, and each has been able to combine a successful athletic career with other interests.
In its first year, the team will contest races on the UCI Oceania and Asia Continental circuits, allowing team members to continue their studies while embarking on short trips overseas. Its first UCI tour will be this week's Tour de Taiwan. Raced over seven days, the tour will provide an opportunity for the team to test itself against leading Continental teams such as Health Net, Merida Europe and Giant Asia.
The team will also race the Tour of Chong Ming Island (Shanghai) at Easter and the Tour of Korea in May. DPDP will be targeting the National Road Series and Herald Sun Tour as major goals for 2006. .
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