Bewley signs contract, will debut with Orica GreenEdge tomorrow
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bewley signs contract, will debut with Orica GreenEdge tomorrow

by VeloNation Press at 12:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
2008 Olympic medallist takes up McEwen's slot on Australian team

Sam BewleyAlthough he’s been racing with the Continental Pure Black Racing this season, former RadioShack rider Sam Bewley will return to the WorldTour with immediate effect, making the step back up to the top level of the sport.

The Orica GreenEdge team has announced that the 24 year old Kiwi will join the team, taking up the vacant slot created when Robbie McEwen ended his career on Sunday and switched to a management role. The team had been full up until that point.

He will don the jersey for the first time on tomorrow’s opening stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt in Germany, which will separately mark the competitive return of RadioShack Nissan’s Fabian Cancellara.

"I'm excited to be part of an Australian team," said Bewley. "I'm not Australian of course, but New Zealand and Australia are pretty united when it comes to sport unless we're competing against one another. Even then, it's a friendly rivalry. I'm really happy to be part of a team from the Southern Hemisphere that's racing in Europe."

Earlier this year there were rumours that Bewley might join the team at some future point, but he played these down when asked about the subject by VeloNation’s Xylon Van Eyck. “I haven't really sat down and planned or discussed what I'll do post-Olympics yet,” he said then. “This is a big year on the boards and I am motivated to make it a successful one.”

His mention of the boards referred to track racing, which he marked out as his big priority this year. He clocked up a bronze medal in the team pursuit at the last Olympic Games and is determined to give it a big shot this year.

“It is possible it's going to be my final Olympics on the track so for that reason I have given my full commitment to the NZ team pursuit team,” he told Eyck.

GreenEdge has accepted this, recognising today that he will wait until after the London Olympics before he will focus 100 percent on his road career.

To its credit, and amid reports over the winter that a northern hemisphere team sought to block Australians it was negotiating with from riding the Olympic Games, Orica GreenEdge appears fine with Bewley’s determination to help New Zealand achieve the best track result.

Directeur sportif Matt White said that the team is content to race him when it can this year, then give him a full programme in 2013. "We weren't able to sign Sam until Robbie retired because we were maxed out on numbers," he said. "This ended up working out well for both Sam and the team because of Sam's track schedule.

“He has a lot of potential on the road when he's able to fully concentrate on road racing, and we're looking forward to helping him develop his complete potential. We've signed him for this and the next season, and while we won't see him much this year, he'll be with us full-time on the road in 2013."

Bewley readily admits that his main achievements thus far have been on the track, saying that is where he has put in his energy. “I haven't gotten a real highlight on the road yet, but I'm happy to join a team where I think that's a real possibility.”

Of the good road results he has achieved, he won a stage this year in the 2.2-ranked Tour of Wellington, and previously picked up third place in both the New Zealand criterium championships and also in the prologue of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen.

That high end speed is something that should make him an asset to the GreenEdge leadout train, and also in time trias. He’ll hope to develop as much as possible, but realises that it could take a while to settle in.

"It's going to be a shock to the system racing at this level," he stated. "I'm here to get some racing in my legs and make a good impression to my new teammates and staff. I'll work as hard as I can for the team. We have some strong riders here on the hunt for stage wins. I'll support their goals wherever I can."

One of those who will help him get the most out of his ability is McEwen, the rider he is replacing. The now-retired veteran is taking up a similar role to that played by Erik Zabel at HTC Highroad and Katusha, working closely with the riders to improve their tactics, sprinting strategy and more.

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