The Fly V Australia Professional Cycling Team rolled out its team launch in style at the luxurious Montage in Beverly Hills on Friday night, concluding a weeklong training camp held in nearby Agoura Hills, California. Technical Director Ed Beamon painted a picture of what's to come for the Continental outfit in the not so distant future.
"The vision of the team is to develop Australia's first ProTour team, first Tour de France competitive team," Beamon told Cyclingnews. "That is not an overnight process. The ultimate goal for this year is to prepare to have a Pro Continental team in 2011.
"That encompasses a lot in developing and strengthening business partnerships, the organization of the team, our ability to function on the road, polish the presentation aspect of the team and obviously, our ability to be athletically competitive," he continued. "That is the broad brush of what the goals and objectives are for the team."
The final event was staged in the high-class banquet rooms on the top floor of the Montage Hotel. Some 140 people attended the presentation that started with a cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres. Queensland's Trade Commissioner Peter Beattie directed the evening's festivities starting with presenting dignitaries and VIPs from Virgin Blue V Australia.
Managing Director Chris White gave an inspiring speech that revisited the team's past success, outlined its present goals and described his vision and direction of the Fly V Australia Professional Cycling Team.
The evening was capped off by presenting 10 of the 15-man roster, individually escorted on stage by models outfitted as V Australia flight attendants. The 2010 team includes Alessandro Bazzana, Hayden Brooks, Jonathan Cantwell, Jai Crawford, Darren Lill, Ben Day, Charles Dionne, David Kemp, Aaron Kemps, Jay Thompson, Ben Kersten, Bernard Sulzberger, Darren Rolfe, Dave Tanner and Phil Zajicek.
Returning talents included Kersten, winner of the USPro Criterium Championship race, and Cantwell, winner of the Tour of Elk Grove criterium. The team signed on Lill after his winning performance in stage two at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Lill is currently recovering from a broken wrist sustained in December.
"We've done a lot of riding this week and each of the riders are at different stages right now so we headed out as a group, then separate to do the climbs or intervals and regrouped," Lill said. "I think we have a really great group of guys on the team that are going to gel very well in the races this year. I think that's going to show in the results.
"I think that we are really well rounded and that we have a lot of depth," he added. "We have a lot of really good guys for the sprints and for the climbs as well as some really good time trialists. Hopefully we will be a dominant force in the one-day races and the stage races."
Arguably the most impressive performance last year came from Zajicek who won the final stage of the Tour of the Gila, outpacing Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer atop Pinos Altos. This year, Zajicek is aiming for another strong performance at the Tour of the Gila to prepare for the Tour of California.
"That was the biggest win of my career. To beat someone like Lance and Levi on top of a mountain was pretty great," Zajicek said. "This year, I know I can ride with some of the best in the world when I'm going well so hopefully it is going to be at the Tour of California where I can do that again."
The squad views racing in North America as part of its long term international cycling program and the doorway to the Tour de France. From now until mid-September its riders will focus on the US calendar beginning with the San Dimas Stage Race and the Redlands Bicycle Classic in March.
Other targeted events include the Tour of the Gila, Joe Martin Stage Race, Philadelphia International Cycling Championships, Nature Valley Grand Prix, Tour de Beauce, Air Force Cycling Classic and the Tour of California, pending an invitation.
"There is tremendous expectations for the team, as there is for every American team, geared toward the Tour of California," Beamon said. "The hope and the anticipation of getting an invite there is a driving force. We will approach the beginning of the season looking forward to the Tour of California as a goal. If we get an invitation then we will be prepared for it."