The Italian Ancillotti mountain bike team signed New Zealander Rhys Willemse to compete in downhill and four cross races for 2010. As a junior, Willemse scored 13th overall and the first junior place at the Maribor World Cup in Slovenia plus he won the Australian Downhill Junior Championships. He also finished fourth at the junior World Championship in Canberra, Australia a few months ago. With his new team, he'll race the elite downhill and four cross World Cup circuit, the Italian downhill series and the iXS series.
"I'm looking forward to riding my new Ancillotti bike and producing some great results again next season," said Willemse according to a team press release. "It will also be good to be riding for a team again, and not having to worry about anything, other than concentrating on my riding. Ancillotti has given me the chance to show the world what I can do.
"My goals for the 2010 season are to produce some top 10 results and finish the season in the top 20. I had a good season last year...and I believe that I can finally get a top 10 result in my first year as a pro rider. My future goal is to one day be World Champion."
Willemse will be based in Italy's Doganaccia Ski Resort along with his new Kiwi teammate George Brannigan who will be competing in the junior World Championship and World Cup series. Brannigan started racing three years ago and has won the Under 19 New Zealand series in 2008 and finished seventh at the Junior World Championships in 2009.
"I have wanted to ride professionally ever since I started riding downhill," said Brannigan. "With Ancillotti Doganaccia I think I will have a good chance to achieve my goals for 2010."
Tomaso Ancillotti, Ancillotti factory owner, team manager and mechanic will support the pair at races. "They are fast and have plenty of style," said Ancillotti. "My father Alberto - at the factory - and I - at races - will provide them all the support they need to compete at such high level. After the sensational 2009, during which we took the junior world downhill championship with Brook MacDonald and Wyn Masters, who scored 22nd place in Schladming and the Oceania silver medal, I think we'll have some more good times."