New OZ Pro Racing Team

Yesterday, 15/2, it was announced that Australia would have its first international trade team. Rupert Guinness from the Australian newspaper writes "Australian cycling yesterday took a major step towards a start in the world's biggest event, the Tour de France, with the announcement of its first trade team."

Guinness said that it would "be called the Giant-Australian Institute of Sport, the team will be run on a budget of close to $1 million, and will comprise 10 professional and five under-23 amateur cyclists. And leading the team will be NSWs Rod McGee, a member of the gold-medal winning Australian team pursuit lineup in last year's world championships who left the AIS track squad late last year."

It is a major step for Australia and will give many riders chances that they have until now not been able to take. McGee said that "After winning a world title there was no financial gain. But with this I can have a career." McGee is a starter in tommorrow's Austral Wheel Race (see report previously about Stephen Pate).

Guinness writes that "while the Giant-AIS Team is officially recognised as a second-division squad, it is hoped that increased corporate sponsorship as well as results will see it develop into a first division team over the next five years to become eligible to race the Tour. Until then, the team will still find itself up against some of the toughest competition in the world in a season of up to 120 days of racing, including eight major stage races."

"In Europe, the key stage events pinpointed by team coach Heiko Salzwedel are the Tours of Luxembourg, Denmark, and Portugal and the Tour de l'Avenir in France. In the US, the main event will be the DuPont Tour. And in Australia, the team will make its strongest showing in the end-of-season events, the Pacific Power Commonwealth Bank Cycling Classic, and the VicHealth Herald Sun Tour in Victoria."

It seems that the bike producers, Giant will be the major sponsor along with the AIS. Other sponsors include Jayco Caravans and Bolle. No team listing is available as yet.