Ryan MacAnally is the latest Australian to tread to well-worn path to Italian under-23 squad, Team Bibanese. The 20-year-old has spent just over a season with Australian Continental outfit Budget Forklifts, but when the offer came following the Tour of the Murray River, the opportunity was too good to pass up.
MacAnally follows Australian WorldTour riders Simon Gerrans and Jonathan Cantwell, along with Adam Semple and Mitch Mulhern. While the input of Mulhern was crucial to the young sprinter landing the role, it was the sage advice of Robbie McEwen that convinced MacAnally that he was making the right move.
"I'm trying to follow in the footsteps of Jonny Cantwell and Robbie McEwen - they're my idols," he told Cyclingnews. "I went to Robbie for some advice and he said just to go for the team."
The Queenslander is in a hurry with the goal being to make it to the WorldTour by 2016, but next year is all about gaining the valuable experience that racing in Europe can only bring.
This season, MacAnally scored nine podiums in the Australian National Road Series this season, playing a key role in the success of Budget Forklifts teammate Luke Davison who took the overall title off the back of 10 stage victories, the Goulburn to Sydney Cycle Classic and the Tour of the Murray River.
"It was great to work with Luke, we both had a lot of success and it was good to be in the lead out train with him, Sam Witmitz was there too," explained MacAnally. "It was great to be a part of a team that had so much dominance."
MacAnally also rode on the Australian National team at the Tour of Hainan, with a top-10 on Stage 9, before returning to his home state to claim third behind McEwen and Cantwell at the Noosa International Criterium last month. With a host of other young Queenslanders including Jay McCarthy (Saxo - Tinkoff) and Jordan Kerby (Christina Watches - Onfone) making inroads into the European racing scene, the state appears to be reaching a new level in growth and development.
"We've raced against each other a fair bit," said MacAnally. "The competitiveness is bringing the level up in Queensland."
Before making the move to Italy, MacAnally will race the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic under the watch of Kiwi sprint veteran Greg Henderson, before moving on to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour with Total Rush / Specialized.