Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) and Fumiyuki Beppu (RadioShack) are the latest additions to the GreenEdge cycling project, with a team spokesman announcing the signings at the official launch for the upcoming Goulburn-Sydney Cycle Classic.
A three-time winner of the coveted Maillot Vert, as well as taking 12 stage victories at both the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, McEwen is among the most well-known and respected cyclists in Australia. At 39 years of age, McEwen may be now in the twilight of his riding career, but the experience and leadership he brings to the team is invaluable. According to GreenEdge, the Australian will only ride a selected early season program, before he will join the staff as one of the team's 'tactical advisors'.
"My role is to ride for the first half of the season, to give me the opportunity to start my position from within the group, a bit like being a captain-coach on the field in football," McEwen said.
"On the road you can see a lot more and are likely to have a bigger impact on the younger guys and you can lead by example.
"After that I’ll move into a role, around the time of the Tour de France, to be a tactical advisor. It’s a similar role to the one Erik Zabel has been doing for the past few years at HTC-Highroad, scouting the finishes and informing the guys of what’s coming up and what I think might be the best way to tackle it.
"It takes a pretty keen eye and a lot of experience to be able to give the right information to the riders and they need to be able to trust your judgement 100 per cent.
"If I’m going to send them into a blind corner full gas then they have to be able to trust my judgement when I say that. It’s a role I’m really looking forward to getting into."
GreenEdge spokesperson John Trevorrow added that McEwen had been a long-term target for the team.
"2012 will be Robbie's last year in the professional peloton as a rider, and it is only fitting that he will end his career with an Australian team," said Trevorrow. "We're very happy to welcome Robbie to the team, he's a real icon of Australian cycling."
Current Japanese national road and time trial champion Fumiyuki Beppu also adds to the international flavour of the team. Beppu, 28, has a surprisingly large following in Asia and his native Japan, having become the first rider along with Yukiya Arashiro to complete the Tour de France in 2009.
"Beppu is an incredibly important signing for us and his profile in Asia, is crucial for the GreenEdge brand to get awareness in that market," said Trevorrow. "Beppu is a strong rider with a big future in the sport, and we look forward to working with him in the years ahead."
The two signings bring GreenEdge's roster to 16 riders, more than enough to satisfy the minimum requirements of the UCI for a WorldTour application.