By Greg Johnson
Australian Continental squad FRF Couriers-NSW Institute of Sport launched its 2008 team at a function held near Sydney's Harbour Bridge overnight. The 12-man development squad was unveiled at the Harbour View Hotel, with the function hosted by SBS television sports presenter Michael Tomalaris.
The evening commenced with a thank you from Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks, who praised the New South Wales squad for its efforts in helping develop the nation's young cyclists. "This team is a very important development component of where cycling is going in Australia and the role you play is probably underestimated," said Fredericks. "Not just in Sydney, not just in New South Wales; what you're doing has a national impact, so I'd like to thank and congratulate you for that."
The 2008 outfit includes the likes of former Under 23 Australian Time Trial Champion Shaun Higgerson, who has moved to the outfit from SouthAustralia.com-AIS. "The sky is the limit for Shaun, he's such a talent he actually doesn't realize how good he can be; he will do something very special," said NSWIS coach Gary Sutton, who won Cycling Australia's Coach of the Year title in 2007. "We have got such a great team; we have so many young people here. It does look promising for the season ahead, but nothing comes easy and talk is cheap. It's going to be a great year."
Another of the team's promising young talents in 2008 is Joe Lewis. Lewis, a new signing to the team in 2008, won the Dutch post-Tour de France criterium Drai Van De Kai's junior race in 2007 and felt honoured to be apart of the FRF-NSWIS squad.
"It's an honour to have been selected for this squad, coming through the Under 19s, I've always aimed to be a part of this team this year," said Lewis. "It's also helped me continue my studies and balance my cycling with the resources available to this team."
The outfit is aiming at strong results on home shores in events such as the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and will again travel abroad to give its young outfit a taste of racing overseas. Among the international events, the team plans to contest in the 2008 Tours of Ireland and Qinghai Lake.
"I'm excited about the year ahead, we've got some pretty good young riders," said FRF Couriers owner Frank Fortuna. "If we can get some good results with young riders, we'll get a sense of achievement from that."
This year will be the Oceania Continental squad's second season, after the outfit was formed at the start of 2007 when New South Wales teams FRF Couriers and New South Wales Institute of Sport, then both smaller individual squads, pooled their resources to former a larger outfit.
The FRF-NSWIS 2008 roster is: John Ebeling, Joe Lewis, Tim Guy, Brendan Brooks, Chris Jory, Robbie Cater, Peter Herzig, Dale Scarfe, Ben Johnson, Shaun Higgerson, Anthony Bennett and Jason Hegert.