A new chapter of Australian cycling history will be written in 2017 with the development of an Orica-Scott Continental development team in collaboration with China. The team will be registered under a Chinese license with predominately Chinese riders and will be associated with the Orica-Scott WorldTour team, Chinese Cycling Association, and Cycling Australia
The squad will be known as Mitchelton-Scott and is the culmination of a near three-decade long association between Orica-Scott general manager Shayne Bannan and head coach Jingkan Shen.
"After what we consider to be a hugely successful first five years on the world stage, at the top level of both men's and women's cycling, we believe we have landed in a strong position to expand our offerings to a Continental Team for 2017," Orica-Scott team owner Gerry Ryan said in a statement. "The addition of Mitchelton-SCOTT continues to support our ambitions to foster the development of young Australian riders and also extends our support to the Australasian region for whom we represent with the UCI."
In recent years, Orica-Scott has looked to Asia to secure financial backing and title sponsors. The creation of the development team in association with China could be seen as a move to secure a new title sponsor from 2018 onwards as Orica will be ending its sponsorship at the end of this season.
The Continental team will provide a pathway to racing in Europe for Chinese riders, while for Australian riders, the team is similar in set up and personnel to the Jayco WorldTour Academy team operated by Cycling Australia in recent seasons.
"Mitchelton-SCOTT is a collaboration by two different systems,” Shen said. "It's a very good opportunity for Chinese riders to communicate with Australian riders and it should be push Chinese cycling to a higher level."
With the final roster to be determined following the 'Australian summer of cycling', Orica-Scott have confirmed James Victor as head director sportif, and a squad of eight riders.
Xue Chaobua, Qin Chenl, Xue Fuwen, Liu Hao, Sun Xiaolong and Bi Wenhui are the six confirmed Chinese riders and will be joined by Australian duo Harry Sweeny and Robert Stannard.
The team will make its racing debut late next month or early-March with its focus on Asian and European racing.
"Exposure like this at the international level is invaluable for building and forging their careers and for possible Australian representation at Olympic and international road and track competitions, " Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green stated.
The creation of the team will still allow for Australian riders to partake in nations cup races such as the Tour de l'Avenir.
Final details of the squad, staff, racing programme, and equipment sponsors is expected in the coming weeks once the Australian summer racing season has concluded.