Cycling Australia (CA) is pushing harder than ever to find the next young Cadel Evans or Robbie McEwen with a revamp of their under-23 racing team.
Now classified as a national team rather than registered as an International Cycling Union (UCI) continental team, the 2013 world tour academy aims to provide a smoother pathway for the nation’s best young riders to the elite level.
CA holds high hopes for the next crop of Australia’s cyclists, with the under-23 team winning one-third of the medals on offer at the UCI Road World Championships over the past three years.
The latest revamp will allow management the flexibility to change the nine-rider squad based on performance, injury or illness – a luxury not afforded to registered UCI teams.
CA’s performance director Kevin Tabotta said the change would provide more races for team members while also allowing younger riders a chance to break into the squad.
“There will be a bit of upward pressure for them as well which is always a positive in high performance sport,” he said.
Tabotta added it was no coincidence the squad’s new racing outfit looked similar to the Orica Green Edge cycling team shirts.
“It is a really important link for these young guys to know that if they’re good enough there’s a future from here,” he said.
Canberra rider Adam Phelan, who fell just short of winning the under-23 Road World Championships in the Netherlands last year after making a clean breakaway, said the new squad’s greatest strength was it had riders that could compete in every facet of cycling.
“Every single race that we go to this year we’ll have more than one person who can win it,” the 22-year-old said.
Squad members have completed a camp at the Australian Institute of Sport ahead of their final event in Australia – the Oceania Road Championships in Canberra from March 14 – before they hit the long European road season.
Team: Alex Clements (Tas), Alex Edmondson (SA), Caleb Ewan (NSW), Campbell Flakemore (Tas), Damien Howson (SA), Brad Linfield (WA), Alex Morgan (Vic), Mitch Mulhern (Qld), Adam Phelan (ACT).