GreenEDGE Cycling have today announced that former Australian champion, Will Walker, has joined the team in a development role to work with the team’s younger riders. Walker was regarded as one of the rising stars of Australian cycling but his career was cut short, at the tender age of 23, due to a congenital heart disease.
Walker’s role with the team is set to begin immediately and he will be working closely with team manager, Shane Bannan and the team’s sporting director, Neil Stephens on pulling the 2012 roster together. Bannan, sees the hurdles Walker has faced, combined with his four-years in the professional peloton, as a great asset for the team.
"Despite being only 25 Will brings a lot to the team and in many respects his age is a great advantage," said Bannan. "Will has a solid base of experience at all levels of the sport with plenty of highs and lows, which are critical to this sort of role. He’ll be helping young riders make the step up from junior and amateur racing to the professional ranks.”
"The added bonus is that the younger riders we aim to recruit will be able to relate to him and vice versa. There’ll be no generation gap to contend with, which is a rare position for us to be in,” continued Bannan. "For our supporters having Will on board will give them a chance to get the inside view of the team as we’ll have him doing regular behind the scenes videos for our website among other things using social media."
Walker will also be doing the sports director course run by the sport’s governing body the UCI with the view of eventually taking on a role as a sporting director with GreenEDGE Cycling. After a year of working out what next, following the abrupt halt to his career, the young Australian sees the move to GreenEDGE as the perfect opportunity to re-immerse himself in the sport.
"Cycling has always been my passion and this gives me the chance to continue in the sport," Walker said.
"I’m looking forward to working with the young riders with the aim of helping them reach their full potential, which isn’t confined to the bike. Importantly this includes the other support we’ll be giving our riders, like opportunities to continue their education, so they’re well prepared for life when they stop racing.
"Working with the various people that are already part of the team management is another great learning opportunity for me and as long as you’re learning you’re normally enjoying life."
Walker’s addition to the GreenEDGE team comes within weeks of the high profile recruiting of CEO Mike McKay and former AIS doctor Dr Peter Barnes. The team is aiming to ride on the UCI WorldTour in 2012.