Australian cyclist and Wiggle Honda team owner Rochelle Gilmore announced today the foundation of a new Australian women's NRS team. The High5 Dream Team is the result of Gilmore's realization that there are many talented Australian female cyclists in need of professional support, guidance and direction.
Gilmore's Wiggle Honda UCI team is registered in Great Britain, and therefore limited to just three Australian riders, so the 33-year-old founder created a team she hopes will eventually help guide young Australian riders to the European peloton.
“I had a burning desire to provide for more Australian athletes than my UCI pro team could officially sign,” Gilmore said in a statement released by the team.
Eight athletes have been selected through Cycling Australia’s State Institute network programs to form the High5 Dream Team. The riders were identified as having the potential to represent Australia at Commonwealth, World Championship or Olympic level over the next few years.
Georgia Baker, Tessa Fabry, Kendelle Hodges, Jess Mundy, Lauren Perry, Sam de Riter, Ellen Skerritt, Rebecca Wiasak, Kimberly Wells form the inaugural High5 roster.
The High5 Dream Team will participate in the 10 televised NRS races across the nation throughout 2015, and an expanded NRS season will see two new events in January coincide with two of Australia’s most famous international races – the WorldTour Santos Tour Down Under and the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
Other races on the team's schedule include the Adelaide Tour in April, the Mersey Valley Tour and the Battle on the Border in May, the Tour of the Murray River and the King Valley Tour in August, Amy’s Otway Classic and the National Capital Tour in September, and the Tour of the Goldfields in October.
Although the team's roster and level of support give High5 the potential on paper to dominate the NRS season, the program’s main focus will be on racing as a "team" and preparing both physically and mentally for the step into European professional cycling.
“As a result of our ambitions, we hope to raise the profile of women’s cycling in Australia,” Gilmore said. “I will personally educate our athletes on how to promote themselves, their sponsors and their sport…. I’m really looking forward to working with our enthusiastic & motivated athletes.”
High5 Dream Team will be managed and directed by Cycling Australia’s most experienced female coach, Donna Rae-Szalinski, of the Victorian Institute of Sport. The team director said taking the helm of High5 is like a dream come true.
“I’ll be working in a very professional environment with a group of seriously talented individuals,” she said. “I’m thriving on the challenge of delivering these athletes to European-based pro teams ready and prepared.”
The team’s partners have committed to three-year deals, lending stability to the new program. The race bikes will supplied by Wilier and outfitted by Campagnolo. Wilier's Zero.7 frame will be equipped with super record electronic EPS components. The TT bikes will be Wilier’s top of the range Twin Blade, also equipped with SR EPS.
Toward the end of the 2015 NRS season, Gilmore will meet with Cycling Australia’s High Performance Management and the State Institute of Sport coaches to discuss the next step for each of the High5 Dream Team athletes. Gilmore also said she will provide 5-6 Australian-based athletes the opportunity to be selected and sent to Europe for six weeks of international UCI racing experience in a professional team environment during August.
“It’s our ambition to assist these athletes in gaining elite national team selections and also, when ready, placing them into European based UCI professional cycling teams,” Gilmore said.
High 5 Dream team 2015 roster:
Georgia Baker, Tessa Fabry, Kendelle Hodges, Jess Mundy, Lauren Perry, Sam de Riter, Ellen Skerritt, Rebecca Wiasak, Kimberly Wells