Australia can boast a new UCI-registered cross country mountain bike team. Backed by the Tasmanian Goverment and based out of the Tasmanian Institute of Sport (TIS), the Cycling Australia discovertasmania.com team will promote Tasmania world-wide.
Six Australian cross country riders will compete under the guidance of Cycling Australia cross country coach Neil Ross: 2008 Under 19 national champion Charlton Durie, 2009 Under 23 national champion Gracie Elvin, 2009 national champion Rowena Fry, 2009 Under 23 national championship runner-up Nathan Haas, 2009 Under 23 national champion Lachlan Norris and 2008 Under 23 national champion Paul van der Ploeg.
"Cycling Australia discovertasmania.com has been designed to expose Australia's talented young mountain bikers to an intensive training and competition environment," said Ross. "They will be racing the World Cup circuit alongside the professional teams and that will give our athletes the experience and race results to gain professional contracts with the best teams in the world."
"The team is a big step on the path to the top level of the sport and if we can keep top athletes in the sport for longer we have a much greater chance of posting medal winning performances at future World Championships and Olympic Games."
The team evolved from the existing High Performance Program which last year involved three cyclists.
"The support we're receiving for the team means we have expanded to six athletes including Fry and Elvin, who were both identified by the 'Dirt Roads to London' National Talent Identification program," said Ross. "It is also the first year we'll be registered as a UCI MTB team and that ensures our riders will gain valuable exposure in international events.
"Australian cyclists have a reputation for being hard working and committed to their sport and one of the aims of the Cycling Australia discovertasmania.com team is to continue that reputation through our professionalism both on and off the bike."
The team will compete on the UCI World Cup circuit from April to September including racing in Europe and North America. Those selected as part of the Australian team will also line up at the UCI World Championships being staged at Canberra's Mt Stromlo Forest Park from September 1 to 6.
"We greatly appreciate the support and resources being put behind the team," said Ross. "It's a solid investment in our cycling future and I'm very excited to be involved with the team."
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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