Pegasus Sports has confirmed that eight riders from its 2010 Fly V Australia team will ride for its European-based squad next season. The Australian team recently sought to obtain ProTeam status for 2011 but is set to compete on the Pro Continental circuit after failing to satisfy the UCI's sporting criterion based on rider results.
Ben Day, Bernard Sulzberger, Jonathan Cantwell, Aaron Kemps, Jai Crawford (all Australia), Darren Lill, Jay Thomson (both South Africa) and Phil Zajicek (USA) will all make the step up and compete in Europe next year.
The experienced Day previously competed in Europe in the colours of MrBookmaker.com among others and he is proud to return as part of an Australian team.
“Personally I'm thrilled to be heading back to Europe to compete in the biggest races, with my mates, in an Australian team that provides an environment where it is easy to thrive,” Day said “To think that I may be part of an Australian team in the big races is unbelievably exciting.”
Aaron Kemps is another rider familiar with racing at the highest level, having spent four seasons with Astana and its forerunner Liberty Seguros. Like Day, he believes that his second European experience will be all the more enjoyable as part of an Australian set-up.
"In my first European adventure, I was too young to really appreciate what I had, and didn't make the most of my opportunities,” he explained. “This time it's going to be different, and I can't wait to be hitting the roads of Europe with my mates."
Kemps’ and Day’s words were echoed by Phil Zajicek, who spoke of his excitement at racing in Europe as part of a “band of brothers.” For sprinter Jonathan Cantwell, meanwhile, the opportunity to ride with one of the icons of Australian cycling is a huge motivation.
“I’m really looking forward to racing with and learning from my old sparring partner Robbie McEwen,” Cantwell said. “He and I have had some great battles in races in Australia over the years and to be on the same team as him will be incredible.”
McEwen is the biggest name at the new squad, which recently also announced the signing of Belgian Domenique Cornu from Skil-Shimano.
While the squad’s ProTeam ambitions appear to be on hold for another year at least, CEO Chris White is adamant that the promotion of so many riders from Fly V Australia to Pegasus Sports is indicative of his team's development.
"I'm ecstatic that so many of our Fly V Australia riders now get their chance to step up to the next level,” White said. “This was always the plan, consistent with one of Pegasus' goals to provide a pathway for young talent to build a foundation, develop and progress all the way to the highest levels in the sport. This is validation of our Pegasus Sports programme.
“To see these guys take the next step on this journey together is truly satisfying."