Orica-AIS adds youth and experience to 2013 roster
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Orica-AIS adds youth and experience to 2013 roster

by Ben Atkins at 4:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Australian team looking for even greater things in its second year

melissa hoskinsThe Orica-AIS team has announced its 2013 roster, as it enters its second season. The squad, which is sister to the men’s Orica-GreenEdge ProTeam, will have a largely Australian core once more, along with some experienced foreign stars.

The team’s debut year began in near-perfect fashion with victories in both the road race and time trial championships of Australia, through Amanda Spratt and Shara Gillow. As the season began in Europe Loes Gunnewijk won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and Judith Arndt took her second Ronde van Vlaanderen; victories continued through the summer with Melissa Hoskins winning two stages and the overall of the Tour of Chongming Island, then finished second in the corresponding World Cup race, while Arndt won the Emakumeen Euskal Bira, and Linda Villumsen won the Giro del Trentino.

The season then ended as successfully it had begun, with the team taking the silver medal in the World championship team time trial, while Arndt took gold and Villumsen bronze in the individual event.

Arndt had long since announced her intention to retire at the end of the season, however, along with former Australian champion Alex Rhodes. Rowena Fry has also taken the decision to hang up her wheels, along - unexpectedly - with Villumsen, while Häusler transfers to Team Tibco-To The Top, meaning the team has had to recruit some new riders.

“Before we discuss the new squad, I want to extend sincere thanks and wish all the best in the future to Judith Arndt, Alex Rhodes, Claudia Häusler, Linda Villumsen and Rowena Fry,” said directeur sportif David McPartland. “Our first season was a dream year from our perspective, and in large part, this was due to the leadership and camaraderie on display by our entire team. Judith, Alex, Claudia, Linda and Row now move on to things outside of cycling. They do so after having left a lasting impact on our team.”

The big name to be joining is that of multiple Swedish champion Emma Johansson, who has finally got her wish to sign for a big team after spending a number of years as the leader of small ones.

“We sought out a rider with a lot of experience who could lead some of our younger Australians,” said McPartland. “Straightaway we identified Emma as a natural fit for this role.”

The other non-Australian to be joining the team is Korean Sungeun Gu, but the other two recruits for 2013 are home grown, with Gracie Elvin and Annette “Nettie” Edmondson stepping up.

“Gracie is an exciting signing,” McPartland said. “She came to us through the Australian Institute of Sport [AIS] program. The AIS team is a feeder team for ORICA-AIS. When we started the team from scratch last year, several of the riders we had signed had ridden for the AIS at some point, but Gracie is the first rider we can point to and say she was 100% developed in the AIS program and has now come to us to become a professional.”

Like many AIS riders, Edmondson comes from a strong track background, taking silver medals in the Omnium and Team Pursuit in this year’s World championships, and following this up with an Omnium bronze at the London Olympics.

“She’s certainly an upcoming sprinter with a huge future ahead of her,” said McPartland. “She’s undeniably talented, and while her obvious strength is in the sprints, I suspect she may develop into more of an all-rounder. A few years ago, I watched her race in the Czech Republic over an undulating to moderately hilly course, and I was surprised at how good she was. She’ll be an exciting one to watch develop this year.”

With both experienced and inexperienced riders joining the established core of the 2012 team, McPartland expects even bigger things for the Orica-AIS team in 2013.

“I’m looking forward to seeing further development in our riders that are coming back for their second year,” he said. “I anticipate moving them up the ladder, so to speak, and giving them more responsibility and chances in certain races. Jess MacLean and Tiff Cromwell, especially, will build on their successes from our first year. With Judith, Alex and Linda gone, it will be good to see Spratty, Shara and Loes assume more leadership within the team.”

ORICA-AIS 2013 Roster:
Tiffany Cromwell, Gracie Elvin, Nettie Edmondson, Shara Gillow, Sungeun Gu, Loes Gunnewijk, Melissa Hoskins, Emma Johansson, Jessie MacLean and Amanda Spratt


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