Former Rabobank professional Patrick Jonker has joined the new Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans Australian domestic squad as sport director. The team, which will be officially launched in Brisbane tonight, has been launched to replace Fly V Australia in domestic races while the Continental outfit focuses on US and European events this season.
Chris White, owner of both teams’ holding company Pegasus Racing, said Jonker’s knowledge of stage racing is complementary to the existing skill set within the squad’s sport director ranks. While both teams will work closely together, Jonker’s primary responsibility will be the feeder team for 2010.
“The appeal to me of wanting to hire Pat was his experience in the sport: previous winner of the Tour Down Under, 12th at the 1996 Tour de France, an esteemed and lengthy professional career carved out largely on his own,” White told Cyclingnews.
“He brings significant general classification technical and tactical know how to our program. He’s just a great fit for our growing program, where we’ll be able to use his skills and he’s going to add value in a big way.”
The sport director role with Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans isn’t Jonker’s first, with the South Australian resident holding the same job at the Savings and Loans Continental squad last season. The majority of the Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans riders are in their late teens and it’s hoped some will graduate to the organisation’s top squad in coming years.
“Pat’s got 11 or 12 guys that we’re going to mould into the next crop of professional riders and create career paths for them by vertically integrating both squads,” said White.
Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans roster for 2010: Michael Freiberg, Pat Shaw, Scott Law, Ben Dyball, James Hepburn, Peter Thomson, Cameron Peterson, Mitchell Pearson, Andrew Roe, James Mowatt, Rhys Gillett and Chris Pryor.