Fly V Australia Cycling Team is heading into the new year poised to soar above last year's success of the United States of America's National Racing Calendar (NRC) series. The Australia-registered Continental squad hired on Ed Beamon as its new technical director.
"I'll be helping Henk [Vogels] out with some of the DS responsibilities and do a lot of liaisons with industry sponsors," Beamon said. "I'll help get together the operational structure and logistics and organize the race calendar. Most of the calendar is going to be in the US this year."
Beamon is recognized as one of the longest standing manager/directeur sportif in the US, running the former Navigators Insurance Cycling team for 14 consecutive seasons, between 1993 and 2007. He went on to direct the US-based Team Type 1 in 2008. Beamon's affiliation to the Australian squad seems like a natural fit given many of its riders and staff were once riders of his own, including the team's Directeur Sportif Henk Vogels.
"I met with the manager Chris White at the Tour of California last year," Beamon said. "There were several guys I've worked with in the past. When the team was coming together in November of 2008, I was already talking to them and several guys had been on the Navigators program so that's how I first got involved with them as far as communicating."
"I met with Chris a few times during the season and as it progressed and we got closer to the Las Vegas trade show, he was having good success building the program," he continued. "It looked like they were going to build a larger program and have more focus in building some drama around their presence in the US. The stars aligned and we came together."
Team Manager, Chris White launched the team at the end of 2008 signing on high profile sponsor the Australian airline Virgin Blue's International-bound service V Australia. The team's primary objectives for the season are to become the leading professional team in North America and Australia and to build a platform for elevation to Professional Continental status in 2011 and eventually become Australia's first ProTour team.
"Chris has V Australia committed out for a few years now and Chris's approach is very measured and realistic," Beamon said. "You have to set smaller individual goals as well as long term goals. V Australia is in a growth stage, it's young and it's moving very ambitiously toward being a large player on the international scene.
"Los Angeles is an important market for them and the growth in just that one destination has been dramatic. The team and V Australia have a nice marriage because as the airline and the team have success, hopefully simultaneously, it's a good synergy for growing a team."
Fly V Australia recently announced a 15-man roster for 2010. Riders include Alessandro Bazzana (Ita), Hayden Brooks (Aus), Jonathon Cantwell (Aus), Jai Crawford (Aus), Benjamin Day (Aus), Charles Dionne (Can), Aaron Kemps (Aus), David Kemp (Aus), Benjamin Kersten (Aus), Darren Lill (RSA), Darren Rolfe (Aus), Bernard Sulzberger (Aus), David Tanner (Aus), Jay Thomson (RSA), Phillip Zajicek (USA).
"Chris is a sharp guy and he has a smart approach to building the team around ‘mateship,'" said Beamon regarding the Australian concept of friendship. "It's loyalty and integrity from the inside out. I've always enjoyed working with Australian guys over the years because that sense of ‘mateship' they have is almost cultural.
"Already I sense the camaraderie in the team that is strong and powerful. When a team comes together it comes together because of that commitment, loyalty and unity of the individuals to make it bigger than just one guy."
Stand out performances in last year included stage wins at the Tour of the Gila, Tour of Elk Grove, Hanes Park Classic and Downers Grove. The team will complete a pre-season training camp held on the Gold Coast in Australia in mid-January before taking on races in India and Singapore. They will reunited in March for a second training camp held in Southern California.
"The goal this year was to build a team that had a lot more depth and greater multi-day capacity to have the ability to look at stage races," Beamon said. "They are looking ahead from months ago now and the NRC is an important target as a series for them.
"I think they are very much approaching the US calendar the way a US team would, even though it's an Australian team. Winning NRC races, especially the biggest NRC races, but also having a goal and a view on the overall is going to be important for the team. Also the opportunity to do bigger UCI race is keen and certainly the team is anxious to get a start at the Tour of California."
Fly V Australia will target North American stage races such as San Dimas Stage Race, Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour of the Gila, Joe Martin Stage Race, Nature Valley Grand Prix, Tour of Elk Grove and the Tour de Beauce. It will also focus on one-day races and sprint-heavy criteriums like the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, Downers Grove and the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium among others.
Fly V Australia will be outfitted on DeRosa King 3 bicycles, SRAM components and Santini cycling clothing in 2010.