Spath looking forward to opportunities with newly-UCI registered Team Rytger
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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Spath looking forward to opportunities with newly-UCI registered Team Rytger

by Shane Stokes at 3:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Former Team Tibco rider moving to Danish team for 2014

Mel SpathIrish road race champion Mel Spath will have the chance for more European UCI racing next season after signing a contract to race with the upgraded Team Rytger. The 32 year old, who won the Irish title in 2012 and again this year, is moving across to the Danish squad after competing with Team Tibco this season, and believes that the setup could suit her well.

“I'm really happy about this move - the team's motto is that it's not only about winning and they emphasize the social side of the team as well,” she told VeloNation this week. “That is something that is really important to me and I liked that about the team from the start. They are also based in Europe, and I was hoping to get onto a European-based team for next year, because I wanted to stay and race more in Europe. It is still the centre of cycling with its rich history and following. I thought they would be a good fit.”

Spath, who was born in Germany but was able to declare for Ireland in recent years as her husband Ryan Sherlock is from that country, met the team at the Irish Rás na mBan race this year. She won a stage and finished second overall in the race. Afterwards she looked into the team and realised that management were planning on registering it as being a UCI squad in 2014. She wrote to them asking if they would have a place and things moved on from there.

“We got talking after some humming and hawing they decided to take me on,” she said.

General manager Brian Henriksen said that he had hoped to bring Irish riders on board, particularly after becoming the first Danish team to ride Rás na mBan in 2012 and getting to know the organiser Valerie Considine.

“Melanie applied to the team almost to late but in my heart I decided to work for this great opportunity - bringing the Irish champion to my team is a very great thing and something I plan to hold on to,” he said.

“As a former rider myself I can see that she is very similar to our Danish champion Kamilla Sofie Vallin, who won the Rás in 2012, and for sure both of them will have a great opportunity to develop as riders.

“For us it´s not only about winning, but we aim to bring even more victories and do even better than this year. For Melanie it means that she also has to develop to be in the front also among the best riders - one goal for sure is to finish the race in the World Championships next year.”

He said that while the calendar has not been finalised, that he believes that Spath and the other riders will be able to participate in many UCI races, adding that collecting those points is important for the team.

Spath stepped up a level to compete with Team Tibco this year and said she has benefitted a lot from that.

“When I joined Tibco I basically went from my first year road racing on the domestic scene in Ireland to racing with famous world-class cyclists and Olympians in World Cups. I felt quite out of my depth at times, and I think it will take some more time to earn my place in the peloton,” the former mountain bike specialist said. “I am much more confident in my abilities now and I think that it will help me with Team Rytger. I hope I get some good opportunities next year.

“I would like to take this as an opportunity to thank Team TIBCO for all the good experiences I had and for all that I have learned during the year. It has definitely been a huge learning curve, but I'm a much better rider for it now.”

She accepts that Team Rytger is a smaller, newer setup but believes that all of the riders will learn in 2014 and pull together to help the team develop.

In terms of race programme, she’s not yet sure what will be the key events. “Because Team Rytger is not (yet) ranked in the top twenty teams, it will have to get wild card entries into races. The race calendar is still being finalized. I don't know yet what races I will get to do with the team next year, but I'm sure the Ras na mBan is high on their list.

“That will be a target, particularly as they dominated it in 2012. Personally, I would like to win the national road race crown again, so that will be one of my main goals. And since Ireland hosts the European MTB champs I hope to be able to enter those too - the Europeans course suits me and I like mixing a little off-road into my training from time to time anyway.”

Spath is currently training in California, building form in advance of the upcoming season. She will be based out of Ireland, doing some part-time work there, but believes the training and racing programme will be fully manageable.


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