News feature, December 18, 2005
On midday Sunday at the Adelaide Hilton, Cycling Australia announced the formation of the South Australia.com - AIS Cycling Team, a major initiative in the growth of the country's high performance program.
The team will be registered as a UCI Continental Team in the Oceania Region and will integrate the current AIS U23 road development program with the talent of Australia's track endurance riders with major sponsorship support from the South Australian Tourism Commission.
"The Australian Institute of Sport has been our partner for many years and now, with the added financial support of the South Australia Government through the Tourism Commission, we look forward to a new era of cycling success," said Mike Victor, President Cycling Australia.
The Hon. Jane Lomax-Smith, South Australian Minister for Tourism, says the Tourism Commission's sponsorship of the team is an innovative approach to drive tourism visitation to the state.
"Cycling is well positioned to capture the imagination of millions of potential visitors to South Australia," she said. "We have benefited enormously from the profile of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under but this is the first time we know of that a tourism agency has undertaken such a bold and unique campaign."
The economic value of cyclo-tourism in Europe is forecast to be more than 32 billion (AUD) dollars by 2020 and Britain estimates cyclo-tourism currently contributes to the economy 1.5 billion (AUD) annually.
"The challenge for us is to continue to attract the cyclo-tourism dollar to South Australia and the South Australia.com - AIS cycling team project is evidence of our ability to think outside the square to promote South Australia to the world.
"I am also delighted to announce the team will make its professional racing debut at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in January," Dr Lomax-Smith said. "What better way to present the team to the world than through the massive television and media exposure generated by the Tour?"
The driving motivation for the creation of the team is to provide an even stronger platform for the development of Australia's U23 road cyclists and the track endurance competitors. It will provide support, coaching and race experience within a structured environment so the riders are well equipped when they eventually make the transition to the ProTour ranks.
"Australian cyclists created history in Athens and since then have set a benchmark of performance that we must ensure continues," said Mr Victor. "There is no doubt other countries have examined our system and, in some cases, are trying to replicate it so we can't rest on our laurels but must keep improving and fine tuning our programs to meet the challenge.
"This latest development will also provide the best possible scenario to develop our track endurance cyclists for Commonwealth and Olympic Games competition."
Australian Sports Commission Chairman, Peter Bartels, a former Commonwealth Games cycling gold medallist, warmly welcomed the new team as another important contribution to Australia's cycling success story.
"South Australia has played an important role in the success of Australian Cycling with the first AIS program starting in Adelaide back in 1989. I congratulate the South Australian Government and the AIS for this latest exciting initiative which will provide enormous encouragement and experience for Australia's young cyclists as they strive to reach the pinnacle of their sport," Mr Bartels said.
Cycling Australia is also pleased to confirm McGee Sports Australia as a supporting sponsor of the team.
"Brad McGee is an Olympic and world champion on the track and one of our most accomplished and successful road professionals and should be congratulated for his commitment to putting something back into the sport he loves," said Mr Victor. "He has been a long time supporter of developing young riders and this project will benefit greatly from his involvement."
"This is the obvious next step for Australian cycling and what has been needed for a long time," said McGee. "It will combine the amazing cycling talent we have with an outstanding coaching and support structure in a team racing world wide. McGee Sports Australia is very happy to be involved because of the opportunities this will create for Australian cycling and young Australian cyclists."
South Australia.com - AIS will compete in two groups with one, primarily involving the U23 road riders, based in Italy from March to October and competing in Europe while the second group of mainly track endurance riders will be based in Australia and contest events in Asia, Australia and North America.
South Australia.com - AIS will line up in UCI classified HC 2.1 and 2.2 stage races and HC 1.1 and 1.2 one day events. The complete race calendar for the team will be announced in January.
Cycling Australia is also proud to continue its special professional relationship with Mapei who has been a major sponsor of the AIS U23 team since 1999. From 1993 to 2002, Mapei developed into one of the most successful professional cycling teams in the history of the sport and the company is excited to be involved in the next phase of Australia's cycling growth.
"The philosophy, ethics and commitment displayed by the Australian U23 program is very similar to that show by the Mapei professional cycling team during its ten year reign," said Prof. Aldo Sassi, Director Sport Service, Mapei. "Mapei believes Australian cycling has been an example of the new modern era and this has been demonstrated by Australia's results and performances at a world level over the past decade.
"The qualities shown by the AIS and Cycling Australia lead to Dr Squinzi's willingness to continue sponsorship through his companies Mapei and Sport Service Mapei," Prof. Sassi said.
Cycling Australia is also pleased to continue its association with Bianchi Bicycles, Mapei, Shimano, Santini, Vittoria and Cyclingnews.com, who have all come on board as support sponsors for South Australia.com - AIS.
The 2006 SouthAustralia.com - AIS Cycling Team:
Jonathon Clarke (VIC - 18/12/84)
Simon Clarke (VIC - 18/7/86)
Peter Dawson (WA - 4/2/82)
Sean Finning (VIC - 22/1/85)
Michael Ford (VIC - 23/4/86)
Matthew Goss (TAS - 5/11/86)
Shaun Higgerson (NSW - 27/12/84)
Ashley Hutchinson (QLD - 9/5/79)
Matthew Lloyd (VIC - 24/5/83)
Daniel McConnell (VIC - 9/8/85)
James Meadley (ACT - 4/2/84)
Miles Olman (QLD - 23/2/86)
Stephen Wooldridge (NSW - 17/10/77)
Team General Manager: Shayne Bannan
Team Director (European based): Brian Stephens
Assistant Team Directors (Australian based): Rodney McGee; David McKenzie
Support Services Coordinator: Karin Stephens
Team website: www.southaustralia-ais.com
- In 2005 Australia topped the medal table at the road cycling world championships in Spain with medals in all divisions - elite men, elite women and U23 men.
- At the Athens Olympic Games, Australia was the dominant cycling nation collecting ten medals including six gold.
- Australia won more medals than any other nation at the 2005 track cycling world championships.
- Cycling Australia recorded double the average growth rate of racing membership in 2005.
- Cycling is the fourth highest participation sport in Australia with more than 1.6 million participants in 2004. This is an increase of 15% on 2001.
- There are approximately six million bicycles in Australia.
- Cycling is well positioned to capture two global mega-trends: health and exercise, and environmental sustainability.
- The image of cycling is highly appealing: urban, European, fashionable café lifestyle and culture.
- Bicycles are the most popular vehicle in the world with 1.4 billion bicycles versus 340 million cars.
- In 2000, 101 million bicycles were produced versus 41 million cars.
- The economic value of cyclo-tourism in Europe is forecast to be more than 32 billion (AUD) dollars by 2020 and Britain estimates cyclo-tourism currently contributes to the economy 1.5 billion (AUD) annually.