Orica-AIS have released their 2014 roster with Emma Johansson returning as team leader aside three new signings for the Australian team. Joining the team for the first time are Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana), Carlee Taylor (Lotto Belisol) and Grace Sulzberger (Jayco-AIS). Interestingly, Tiffany Cromwell will not return to Orica-AIS and her destination for next season is currently unknown.
Taylor joins her Australian teammates from Lotto Belisol following her second full season of racing in Europe, with one of the highlights being a strong team performance at the World Championships in Florence.
"Carlee is a product of the AIS program," said Orica-AIS Director Martin Barras. "As such, we have kept a keen eye on her and her maturation this year. Her continued development coupled with our desire to get more climbing support made Carlee a great choice for us."
Sulzberger will follow the steps of her brothers Bernie and Wesley to the top echelons of world cycling in joining the Orica-AIS squad. The youngest of the three siblings, Grace Sulzberger makes the step up after spending the last two seasons developing with the Jayco-AIS women's team.
"We are pleased to welcome Grace Sulzberger into our fold," said Barras. "Although her season was cut short with a nasty injury when she fractured her femur shortly before Worlds, she demonstrated the know how and consistency we crave in a developing rider. I foresee a very fruitful future for her in the sport."
Scandolara joins Orica-AIS from MCipollini-Giordana after a consistent season that included a stage win at the Thüringen Rundfahrt for the 23-year-old.
"In a departure from our established policy to recruit only experienced non-Australians who can guide our younger riders, we are happy to welcome Valentina Scandolara to our team," said Barras. "Her exuberant racing style is a natural fit for our squad. Also, she has spent so much time with Spratty [Amanda Spratt] in breakaways this year that we thought it simpler to have both on the same team: they will probably end up rooming together on the road!"
The Swede to lead
Johansson's stellar 2013 season has included wins at Thüringen Rundfahrt and La Route de France and has seen her finish the season at the top of the UCI individual rankings. Most recently she finished a gallant runner-up behind the indefatigable Marianne Vos at the World Championships in Florence.
"Emma's first season with us was a win-win for everybody," said Barras. "We found the leadership and performance we wanted, and she was able to improve on her results to eventually move into the world's number one rank. She is a natural fit with the team, and we're thrilled to have re-signed her for another season."
Orica-AIS for 2014: Amanda Spratt, Annette Edmondson, Emma Johansson, Gracie Elvin, Jessie MacLean, Loes Gunnewijk, Melissa Hoskins, Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS), Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana), Carlee Taylor (Lotto Belisol), Grace Sulzberger (Jayco-AIS).