Norwegian-based outfit Hitec Products has announced the signing of Australia's Rachel Neylan (ABUS Nutrizzion) and Italy's Rossella Ratto (Verinlegno-Fabiano) as they team re-builds following the departure of Swedish champion Emma Johansson.
Neylan is on a high following her silver medal effort from the 2012 UCI Road World Championships in Limburg, where she soloed across the line behind Dutchwoman Marianne Vos after riding in the definitive breakaway of the race.
"Hitec is an organically grown team which I have a great deal of respect for," Neylan explained having finalised the deal over the weekend after considering her options. "They are professional, consistent, have a solid race program and good directorship. These are all important elements for a successful team."
Racing on her own from mid-year Neylan took herself to altitude camp and formulated her own program based on guest rides in 1.2 and 2.2-ranked events. Throughout August and September, Neylan planned three race trips – first to Belgium and then the Trophée d'Or Féminin and l‘Ardeche where she finished fourth overall and led to her selection for the Australian team for the world championships.
"The current situation with women's cycling internationally is quite difficult with many low budget teams trying to run full UCI race programs," Neylan said. "Everyone has their challenges and it's not easy for many women, I wasn't the only one with adverse circumstances. In saying that, I am very proud to have overcome those difficulties this year."
With her immediate future secured, Neylan can go about enjoying her off-season and prepare for her next challenge, an assault on the Cycling Australia Road National Championships in January where she hopes to better her 2012 bronze medal in the road race.
"Immediately an Australian national title is my next goal, beyond that world championships 2013 then continue shaping a long term plan building towards the Olympics in Rio 2016," the 30-year-old said.
In Ratto's signing, Hitech can now boast three of the top six riders from the world championships, given bronze medalist Elisa Longo Borghini will continue with the team for the 2013 season. Ratto, 19, finished sixth in Limburg, 3:40 behind Vos.