Team Sparkasse’s announced this week that it signed Australian Champion Darren Lapthorne to a contract for the 2008 season meaning the Australian will be headed to Europe at the end of the summer. “Australians have a great reputation in Europe," said team manager Mark Claudmeyer. "I’m sure Darren won’t disappoint us.”
Lapthorne won his Championship jersey with a solo winner in Ballarat, Victoria after the 200 km National Championship road race. He won with a lead of 15 seconds ahead of Robert McLachlan
“I want to find a strong team in Europe, maybe make it into the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia,” the 25-year-old had told his team manager after his championship race. What a lucky coincidence that Scott McGrory is the manager of Lapthorne’s Team Porsche. McGrory, who was part of Dortmund’s RC Olympia in the 90’s and a successful 6-Days athlete until two years ago, pulled some strings and placed the rider from the fifth continent with Team Sparkasse. “It’s an excellent place for him, he can race a great program and the human factor fits as well,” McGrory said.
The qualities of the Sparkasse newbie are favourable to the team; with a height of 1.81 m and a weight of 68 kg Lapthorne is considered a perfect all rounder. “His strong suits are time trials and tours,” Mark Claudmeyer commented his new rider’s strengths. His accomplishments during the season support this. Before winning the Australian Championships he not only won stages at home, but also in Japan and at the Tour de Hokkaido. Furthermore he triumphed at the Belgian road race in Melle. His sportive goals for Europe are clearly defined, just like his personal ones. Besides English Lapthorne speaks Chinese, studies at university in Melbourne and meanwhile completed his “Master of Business”.