Australia's newest professional cycling team, Jayco 2XU was launched on Wednesday night in Brisbane ahead of their debut at the Mersey Valley Tour which is the opening race of the Australian National Road Series.
Sports director Patrick Jonker told Cyclingnews at the launch that the opportunity to try and duplicate the success he found last year with Virgin Blue RBS Morgans was just too great to pass up.
"Given our roster and the talent that we have available, I'm confident we can match it with the likes of Drapac, Genesys and Budget Forklifts," he said. "But there's a lot of hard work that will need to be done before we reach that level of dominance that we reached last year with Virgin Blue. So for me, it's going to be a huge task and I'll be spending a lot of time with them on the motorbike following them at training. For a few months, we'll be doing everything that we can to get these guys in the right frame of mind and be up there winning NRS races."
The team's aim is to be a "pathway" for club or state-level riders who have the potential to perform at the highest level nationally to teams like GreenEdge or Australian Continental teams. It's not just about riders who are rebounding like Chris Jongewaard but also for riders like Rhys Gillett who are just at the beginning of their careers.
With the launch held at Brisbane's BMW dealership and the team's corporate supporters in attendance, one of the first questions that sprang to mind was: how was Jonker going to manage expectations for a team carrying an unrivalled amount of sponsors and their cash? Jonker was part-bullish, part-guru in his response.
"I'm lucky," he told Cyclingnews. "I've always had a lot of luck. We'll be successful. I'm not a great coach. I haven't got that much experience in coaching but everyone working together - the mechanics, the masseurs that we hire are all very enthusiastic, optimistic positive people. With positivity and confidence, things start to happen. Have I got a plan for success? No, but you watch come July, August; we'll win races and you'll see guys performing way better than anyone ever thought they were capable of."
For this weekend's Mersey Valley Tour, Team Jayco 2XU heads to Tasmania with a roster of former Junior World and Australian Madison Champion Glenn O'Shea, 2006 World Teams Pursuit Champion and Olympian Mark Jamieson, triple Junior World Track Champion Luke Davison, Rhys Gillett, Brendan Brooks, and Oceania road champion Ryan Obst. It's a cracking line-up on paper but Jonker is taking a ‘wait and see' approach, explaining that a top 10 performance would be a good outcome first up.
"Races like Toowoomba, Gippsland and Geelong are where we want to be going really well," he said of the key goals for the season. "In May and June I'll be able to spend real one-on-one time with them. That's the time we'll find that winning combination."
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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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