Johansson to guide less-experienced riders in 2013
Orica-AIS has finalised its 2013 roster with the announcement that London Olympic Games bronze medallist Annette Edmondson and fellow Australian Gracie Elvin will join the program for its second season.
The team will be losing the core of its experienced riders with Judith Arndt, Alex Rhodes, Claudia Häusler, Linda Villumsen and Rowena Fry all farewelling their road careers.
Swedish champion Emma Johansson announced last month that she would be joining Orica-AIS in 2013 in the leadership role, having decided against a move to Dutch team Dolmans-Boels.
"We sought out a rider with a lot of experience who could lead some of our younger Australians," said Orica-AIS sports director David McPartland. "Straightaway we identified Emma as a natural fit for this role."
Edmondson, who rides as part of the Australian track endurance program, has been identified as a sprinter on the road but there is room for the South Australian to grow. The 20-year-old made her omnium debut for Australia at the London World Cup event in February after winning the Australian senior championship in the discipline for the second time. Her performance in the London Velodrome earlier in the year came somewhat as a surprise, as she took silver behind then world champion, Sarah Hammer (USA).
"She's certainly an upcoming sprinter with a huge future ahead of her," said McPartland. "She's undeniably talented, and while her obvious strength is in the sprints, I suspect she may develop into more of an all-rounder. A few years ago, I watched her race in the Czech Republic over an undulating to moderately hilly course, and I was surprised at how good she was. She'll be an exciting one to watch develop this year."
Like teammate Melissa Hoskins, Edmondson will balance her road commitments with the track.
"Nettie will do what we saw Mel do this year," explained McPartland. "We'll have both girls at the very beginning of the season before they turn their attention to track through Track Worlds. Then, they'll come back to us for the rest of the season."
Meantime, Elvin's move from the Jayco-AIS program comes off the back of her selection in the Australian women's team for the UCI World Championships in Limburg in September. The 2012 Oceania road champion is making fast progress having made the switch from mountain biking where she was an under-23 national champion.
This season on the road, the 24-year-old was second at Omloop van Borsele and had another runner-up performance on stage 2 of the Gracia Orlova in the Czech Republic.
"Gracie is an exciting signing," McPartland said. "She came to us through the Australian Institute of Sport [AIS] program. The AIS team is a feeder team for Orica-AIS. When we started the team from scratch last year, several of the riders we had signed had ridden for the AIS at some point, but Gracie is the first rider we can point to and say she was 100% developed in the AIS program and has now come to us to become a professional."
Orica-AIS 2013 roster: Tiffany Cromwell, Gracie Elvin, Nettie Edmondson, Shara Gillow, Sungeun Gu, Loes Gunnewijk, Melissa Hoskins, Emma Johansson, Jessie MacLean, Amanda Spratt.