Loes Gunnewijk has elected to remain with the Orica-AIS team for an additional two seasons. In her first two seasons with the Australian squad, Gunnewijk has put her experience to good use in acting as a mentor for younger riders on the team and this is something both parties are planning to keep in place.
"I'm really happy with the team, so it was an easy decision to make," said Gunnewijk.
When the first Orica-AIS roster was put together two years ago, Gunnewijk was the first non-Australian rider that director, Dave McPartland, attempted to sign.
"It was a special moment when we signed Loes a couple years ago," said McPartland. "She was the first foreigner we approached. We've been super happy with her contributions over the last two years. To have her choose to stay with us again makes me really happy. It's good to see she considers us as good of a match as we consider her.
"Loes has been with us right from the start […] she knows the team. She knows what we stand for and the way we ride. She brings our clear vision to her leadership role.
"That's the most obvious thing we get out of Loes that we can't get from our other riders. She carries a fair bit of responsibility in terms of teaching, communicating and decision-making."
Despite the value that Gunnewijk and her decision making abilities bring to the team, McPartland is now leaning towards expanding her role and allowing her to seek more personal success.
"I would like to give Loes more freedom over the next two years," added McPartland. "Some of the girls she's been mentoring can assume more responsibilities during a race. I imagine this would allow Loes more space. It would be a weight off her shoulders and maybe could translate into a few personal opportunities for her as well."
And this increase in freedom could very much translate to more victories like her win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2012. For Gunnewijk, however, her role as teacher and leader is one she is happy to remain in.
"My role will not change," said Gunnewijk. "I'll be the team captain and teach the Australian girls all about European racing. I hope to lead the team to a lot of wins. For myself, I want to have another good Spring Classics season. The goals are always first the Spring Classics and then the Nationals, Holland Ladies Tour and the Worlds."
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