By Greg Johnson
South Australia-based Savings & Loans continental team has expressed its disappointment at having its application to compete at next year's Tour Down Under rejected. "Unfortunately we weren't accepted into the event, together with Drapac-Porsche. We're arguably the two strongest teams in this country with both leading the Oceania Series on occasions during the year," said team spokesman Stephen Cunningham.
"To be advised that our team wasn't up to scratch to compete in the TDU was surprising, particularly when five riders on our roster have previously competed in the event with great success."
The outfit, which has recently had its application to become a continental team approved by the UCI, had hoped to be awarded a spot at its home event.
"The official Oceania race calendar presents only two tours in Australia for the UCI teams to compete in, the TDU and SunTour," added Cunningham. "To be deprived of this opportunity on home soil is disappointing for us. It's worth mentioning that five of the selected riders for the national team in the TDU are Drapac Porsche and Savings & Loans [riders]."
Meanwhile, the outfit has announced that riders Brett Aitken and Russell Van Hout will lead its efforts at the Cycle Classic in New Zealand's Lower Hutt from January 24-28.
Despite the TDU disappointment, the team is determined to prove its worth and apply for a future slot at the event. "We'll try again next year," concluded Cunningham.