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Four Aussies and one Kiwi to Australian team
Leading Australian UCI Continental team, Huon-Genesys, have announced five new riders to join their roster for the 2014 season. Joining the team that has now sent five riders to the WorldTour are Mark O'Brien (Raleigh), Neil van der Ploeg (search2retain/health), Scott Law (GPM Data#3), Mitchell Lovelock-Fay (Christina Watches-Onfone) and Taylor Gunman. Although the team was absent from the weekend's Grafton to Inverell, the final round of the 2013 men's NRS, the Tasmanian based team comfortably secured the individual title with Jack Haig as well as claiming the team's prize for the fourth year running.
"With the new signings I believe it will be one of our strongest line-ups ever," said team director Andrew Christie-Johnston. "We have brought in some very strong, motivated and versatile riders who I am sure will bring the team many results next year."
O'Brien has spent a mixed year abroad in the UK with Team Raleigh and is now back in Australia beginning his build-up to the 2014 Australian Open Road Championships.
"I'm super excited to get a chance to join Genesys after so many years racing them as rivals, and watching them get numerous riders into the Pro ranks. It just seems that every year they keep getting stronger, and I'm very excited to see what the future brings," said the 26-year-old. "For next year, I really believe that with great team support, I will have my best chance yet to take out the national road title, as well as earn a spot in TDU. After nationals I want to put my best foot forward in great races like the Herald Sun Tour, as well as the Tours of Japan and Tasmania."
Van der Ploeg started the season in stellar form with a fourth place finish in the road race at the Australian Championships. His good form continued with stage victories at the Tours of Toowoomba and Adelaide but a subsequent tendon injury saw him stuck on the sidelines for a crucial three months of the 2013 season.
"Well I'm very excited to join Genesys, but I'm not going to say it was an easy decision, in fact, it was extremely difficult. Search2retain also has some great opportunities for next year, that I could have been part of. I've also really enjoyed being in a smaller team with the ‘underdog' type of status," explained the 26-year-old. "Genesys is certainly no underdog in Australia, in fact, they are probably the most fun to beat, so to now be on their team will be a bit strange!
"I think one of the keys to my improvement over the last few years has been the belief from people like Peter Shandon at search2retain/health and my coach Mark Fenner," added Van der Ploeg. "When I talked with Andrew, he gave me the same sense of belief which I think is essential from team management."
Law spent the 2012 season racing with Sean Kelly's An-Post team in Belgium and returned home this season to take two NRS wins as well as a number of podium finishes with GPM Data#3.
"I'm really excited to be joining the team for next year. Being part of the strongest team in the NRS and also in Asia is a great privilege and I look forward to it," said the 22-year-old. "My major goals for 2014 are to be one of the best sprinters in the NRS and to pick up some results in Asia as well."
Gunman was one of many riders left in the lurch following the collapse of the Pureblack Racing Team in late 2011. Despite this Gunman has pursued multiple options and raced over a number of continents with the New Zealand National Team and a variety of amateur teams.
"My first year as an U23 I went to America and raced for Rubicon Orbea, we raced anything and everything! In 64 days I raced 32 of those. By then the Pureblack Racing team was born with the long term goal of the Tour de France," explained Gunman. "I served an ‘apprenticeship' and developed myself as a rider but also learned from the older more experienced guys. Fetching bottles and riding the front of the peloton was all part of the job, unfortunately just before Christmas ahead of the 2012 season the bad news followed that the team had no money to carry on.
"I am excited about the challenges the new season will bring especially working with Andrew and Steve and the other riders," added the 22-year-old. "For 2014 I wanted to join a team I felt would suit me and via a nudge in the right direction from Joe Cooper I knew I had to talk to Genesys. I couldn't sign the offer quick enough from Genesys as it really is a formidable team that most people would rather be on than race against."
Lovelock-Fay spent the 2013 season racing abroad with compatriot Jordan Kerby at Danish team Christina Watches-Onfone. Having won the Tour of Thailand and finished sixth at the Tour of China in 2012, Lovelock-Fay is excited to return to the Australian and Asian racing scene and to re-capture his top form.
"I've had a tough 2013 season, being based in Europe for the first time and having to learn everything for myself. It threw me straight in the deep end," said the 21-year-old. "I'm really excited to be joining Genesys next year as I know they have a good team environment and work hard on developing young riders like myself to achieve their goals in succeeding and moving on to WorldTour level."