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Australia's European Training Centre opens in Italy

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Michael Rogers in his new Team Sky colours

Michael Rogers in his new Team Sky colours (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Anna Meares (Aus) on the top spot of the podium for the women's sprint.

Anna Meares (Aus) on the top spot of the podium for the women's sprint. (Image credit: Gerry McManus)
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Shayne Bannan posses in front of the Greenedge Cycling van.

Shayne Bannan posses in front of the Greenedge Cycling van. (Image credit: Mark Gunter)

A new era in training facilities is now available for Australian athletes, with the opening of the European Training Centre (ETC) in Gavirate, northern Italy overnight.

For Australia's cyclists, road, track, BMX and mountain training and competition facilities are catered for with the Shayne Bannan-led GreenEDGE project joining in commercial partnership with Cycling Australia and the Australian Sports Commission to make use of the centre.

Bannan, formerly Cycling Australia's high performance manager, ran the national training base in Varese and was a major player in the ETC's development.

Michael Rogers was in attendance for last night's launch and Tweeted his enthusiasm for the facility saying it was "an exciting day for Australian sport."

Cyclists will share the facility with other sports including sailing, rowing and basketball, with more to follow.

"As well as accommodation, the centre will provide world class sporting facilities and services such as sports science and sports medicine, strength and conditioning training and athlete career and education support where it is needed," explained federal sports minister, Senator Mark Arbib, at last night's launch.

In the short-term, the focus is on Australia's success at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Australian Government has committed $12.5 million to the ongoing operation of the ETC in the lead up to the London Olympics and Paralympics and beyond.

Australian Olympic Committee President, John Coates, who also spoke at the launch, welcomed the Government's commitment to giving Australian athletes the best possible preparation and training.

"To make it to the podium in sports which have most of their top competitions in Europe, such as rowing, cycling and sailing, Australian athletes need to have access to quality competition without the financial and physical toll of travelling back and forth between Australia and Europe," Coates said.

The ETC had been granted Olympic Training Centre status by the Australian Olympic Committee.

Success for the Australian team at the London 2012 Olympics is imperative following the slump experienced in Bejing three years ago. Anna Meares (pictured above right) claimed Australia's only medal in the sport, a silver, in what was the country's poorest showing at the Games since Moscow 1980, where Australia failed to bring home a medal of any sort.

The numbing experience in Beijing followed from blistering success in Athens where Australia's cyclists claimed an unprecedented six gold, two silver and two bronze medals.