By Paul Verkuylen in Adelaide
Speaking to Cyclingnews as he sped towards the finish of stage one at the Tour Down Under, Silence-Lotto directeur sportif Hendrick Redant spoke openly about his thoughts of having a national team competing alongside those from the ProTour. "I think that it is good to have them here [UniSA-Australia]. It gives those riders a race in their home country where they can show themselves," Redant explained.
"It's a shame as well that those guys with the kangaroos on their jerseys [SouthAustralia.com-AIS] aren't here either. Those guys are good, I first spotted Matt [Lloyd] here two years ago," he said.
This year is the first year that the Tour Down Under is classified as a ProTour event, and the UCI passed a special exemption to allow UniSA-Australia to take part. The original ProTour regulations drawn up by the UCI stated that only Professional Continental teams would be allowed wildcard invitations to ProTour events, but with the TDU being one of only a handful of races in Australia where Australian riders can show themselves, the event has always been regarded as an important part of the local calendar.
Redant understands this importance and sees Australia as a breeding ground of some of the best talent in cycling at the moment. He has a high regard for the coaching system that has been implemented, believing it to be one which many other countries, including Belgium, could learn from, and sees the local teams as an important part in the development of the sport in Australia.
"It would be good to have a few more teams here like them, I think it's good," he concluded.