Capitalising on the recent grown of cycling in Queensland, the Brisbane Continental Cycling Team will launch from 2018. Run by former Budget Forklifts rider Josh Prete, individual pursuit world champion Jordan Kerby headlines the inaugural squad.
The team is a continuation of the Cobra9 squad which has steadily grown in recent years, racing the National Road Series (NRS) and earning invites to the NZ Cycling Classic. In 2018, the Brisbane Continental Cycling Team is aiming to be a top-three NRS team and earn invitations to UCI races in Australia, like the Herald Sun Tour, and Asia via its Continental license.
"I really want to see this team take off and be something I would have wanted to be a part of when I was racing in Queensland," Prete told Cyclingnews of the team based in Brisbane, Queensland. "I think there are too many talented cyclists that don't get picked up or decide to give it up before they should. It is not through the fault of another teams or anything really."
From Atherton in Far North Queensland, Prete found himself having to have to travel further and further south to pursue his cycling dream. During his career, 26-year-old Prete rode with the Continental Budget Forklifts team which was based out of Queensland. Since the team ended at the end of 2015, there has been a lack of options for Queenslanders and Prete is aiming to take advantage of that fact, providing an a pathway to success.
"I've wanted to have something based out of Brisbane to support the catchment ahead of Queensland for cycling but also to attract talented riders to come to Brisbane to race as well. I want create a high level-racing scene like what is already established in Melbourne or Sydney," he said of his aim. "There hasn't been that team that people aim for. I feel it is really important for people to see what a good team can do in races. There are heaps of talented guys in Queensland but they all seem to be individuals. Which is fair as there is no real emphasis on working together as a team and how important that is for race results."
Since hanging up his wheels, Prete has become a co-owner of The Pedaler bike shop in Queensland which also functioned as a service course for Cobra9. When Prete started on the Continental team project, the working title for the team was The Pedaler Continental Cycling Team. However, Prete explained he rebranded the project to better represent Brisbane and Queensland.
"I rebranded everything, the project is exactly the same, I just changed it to Brisbane because it reflects more what it is about, and where we are coming from and what the story is around the team. I want all the clubs around the city and people around Queensland to get behind it," he said. "We've been really fortunate to find a major backer in ESMAAC which is a mining services company, come on to help the project and get the ball rolling. They are going to provide the majority of the funds next year to get it off the ground and hopefully try and find some more sponsors for the next year."
While the NRS is not at the level it once was regarding race days, teams and coverage, Prete is optimistic for the race series which has launched the careers of Nathan Haas, Jack Haig, and Paddy Bevin in recent years and wants to see the country's premier race series return to its glory days
"It might not be as good as it has been but it's only going to get better is people support it," he said. "There wasn't any hesitation or anything about putting together a Conti team or a NRS team, it's just the way it is right now. There are heaps of reasons why there is less support and less exposure now, but it is not going to get any better through no action. Build it and they will come I hope.
"I think it's a bit of a right of passage that we need to establish ourselves and put some good results on the table there and give it the credit that it's worth as a series. It's been proven again and again that riders can build careers off the NRS and I want the guys to take it seriously and see it as a series that is worth winning and racing. That is a big focus throughout the season."
In the last few seasons, several NRS teams have made the jump to Continental level and suffered as a result. Prete is focused on the long-term of the team, explaining he has been busy putting in place the structure, and building "a team culture" requited to ensure longevity.
"I want to set it up right now as its own entity and make sure from the get go that the structure behind the team, which no one really sees, will mean it can progress as far as it's possible to," he said. "We want to create it so people feel like they are part of it and supporters can find the team can watch the NRS and how the team is doing like the Tour de France in some ways."
Along with Kerby, Prete has confirmed Oliver Smith, Jonathan Butler, Mitch Neumann, Ryan Thomas, David Edwards, and Josh Beikoff in the 2018 squad.
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Zeb Woodpower is the Australian editor at Cyclingnews. Based in Sydney, Zeb provides an Australian perspective on the sport with articles ranging from the local to the global . He joined Cyclingnews in 2013.