The Swell-Redshift mountain bike team was launched on Thursday, just prior to the final round of the Australian National Mountain Bike Series in Canberra. Swell-Redshift is taking a unique approach to racing, development and sponsorship, akin to teams of the European peloton rather than traditional Australian mountain biking. The team has its naming rights sponsor from the private sector, Swell Design Group, along with specific support from within the cycling industry.
Due to the extensive funding cuts to elite mountain biking announced by Cycling Australia late in 2009, the team believes it is a critical time to secure alternative development pathways to ensure that Australia's recent gains in the sport continue to advance the sport nationally and internationally.
The team's riders will target races that are important to their development, rather than targeting Australian mass-participation races. The latter approach is taken by many Australian mountain bike teams.
The Swell-Redshift mountain bike team is focused on Olympic format cross country racing and will support the ambitions of qualifying members of the team for this year's World Championships in Canada. The team has the longer term goal of developing riders for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
"We may not have the budget of RadioShack or Saxo Bank, but we have the foundations in place to develop Olympic format cross country riders for the international stage," said Team Manager Chris Clarke.
It's objectives are to focus on development of Australian cross country riders; to bridge the gap by creating pathways to Europe for Australian riders to further their careers; to promote the sport of mountain biking in Australia; and to provide novel and tailored benefits to maximise the return for sponsors.
The Canberra-based team is preparing is making its debut at the fourth and final round of the 2009-10 Australian mountain bike national series at Stromlo Forest Park. Andy Blair will be looking to put his technical skills to good use to step onto the podium in Saturday's elite men's race. Alongside him, Cal Britten will be aiming high after coming 19th at Stromlo in the Under 23 men's race at last year's mountain bike World Championships. Cameron Ivory is aiming to continue his unbeaten streak in the Under 19 series.
Next weekend, the team will line up at the Oceania Championships in Dunedin, New Zealand. Following this, Blair and Britten will embark on a European tour to compete in the World Cup series across Europe and North America. For Blair, this will mean another six months away from home.
Along with the support from the Swell Design Group and the management company Redshift, the team will be kitted out both on and off the bike by 2XU. Felt Australia has supplied the team with the Six Team carbon hardtail bikes. The team will be running the latest lightweight wheelsets from FRM Technologies.
The riders of the Swell-Redshift team are Andy Blair, Cal Britten, Nick Both, Rosie Barnes, Cameron Ivory and Trenton Day. Chris Clarke and Paul Aubrey act as team management.