Cycling Australia's development program in Europe is set to undergo a change from 2013 with the current Continental-registered team, Jayco-AIS, to be dropped in favour of an Australian National Team set-up.
The UCI Continental team has been in existence since 2006 first as Southaustralia.com-AIS until evolving into Jayco-AIS. While currently a "work in progress", the changes are expected to be in place by the end of October or early November with the team possibly being re-named as Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy.
"I can't see it not heading this way because it's not a huge change," Cycling Australia's national performance director Kevin Tabotta told Cyclingnews.
It's a structure that's played an important role in the development of some of Australia's best exports to the UCI World Tour including Matt Goss, Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), Matthew Lloyd (Lampre-ISD),and Michael Matthews (Rabobank). Heading into 2013, the team has provided a stepping stone for Rohan Dennis to move to Garmin-Sharp and Jay McCarthy to land a contract with Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank.
The shift, apart from bringing Australia into line with most other nations, will also save Cycling Australia from outlaying a fee for a UCI Continental licence, which is eventually returned under normal circumstances.
"We probably did 60 per cent of our races under a national team umbrella anyway this season so it was more a case of looking at why we were doing that and asking if there is a necessity to be a continental team anymore," Tabotta explained.
He argues that the move will give the team greater flexibility in terms of riders within the program and outside. For example, current Australian-based Continental outfits such as Team Budget Forklifts, Drapac Professional Cycling and Genesys Wealth Advisers are all branching into a rapidly-expanding Asian racing circuit which is seen as another step up out of Australia. This season saw Drapac's Adam Phelan guest ride with the Jayco-AIS program and in an ideal world under the new regime, opportunities for riders like Phelan that are ready to take that next step out of Australia and Asia into Europe will increase.
"Essentially, the activities between March and the end of September won't change," Tabotta continued. "We'll still hit the same sort of race program; we'll still engage the same number of athletes and we'll still offer a certain level of service under a national team agreement and we'll look after those people."
With these changes in mind, management is keeping targeted riders informed with junior world championship silver medallist Caleb Ewan among those expected to join the line-up for next season. No riders will be signed to the program until the changes, if any, are set in stone.
"We've certainly spoken to a number of riders and said this is what our plans are for next year and are you interested," Tabotta confirmed. "Those conversations have gone well. We've had that with about four or five athletes but there's still a lot of work to do in that area."
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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