It’s been a long time coming but in a little over a month Oceania’s most successful continental team will land in Belgium to commence a three month European stint.
The team originally planned on a block of racing in the United States but a lack of races and long distances to cover made the European option far more cost effective but also more demanding in terms of the level of competition. Team Manager Andrew Christie-Johnston is well aware of the challenges facing the team. “The break in our Oceania and Asian calendar has given us an opportunity to expose the boys to another experience and level of competition” he said. “We know it won’t be easy and it will be an incredibly steep learning curve for everyone but that’s the whole point. We expect that these guys will eventually follow in the footsteps of their teammates who have gone on to ride in the World Tour so this will be a fantastic introduction and an important step in reaching that goal.”
After leaving Australia in May to compete in the Tour of Japan and the Tour of Korea the squads will continue on to the team base in Beloeil. Most of the racing will take place in Belgium but with two tours in France, Tour De Savoie and the Tour of Alsace.
In addition the team will also line up in a number of one day races the toughest probably being the UCI 1.1 Halle Ingooigem in Belgium. This was won last year by Nacer Bouhanni and had 6 world tour teams on the start list. Following Halle Ingooigem we will race Internationale Wielertrofee Jong Maar Moedig, Paris Chauny, Grote Prijs Stad Sint-Niklaas, Grand Prix Cerami and Grand Prix de la ville de PÃ©renchies. This will signal the end of the European block for half the squad who will return home to defend the teams National Road Series title. The rest of the team will remain to compete in nine more one day races before heading home via the Tour of China 1 & 2.
It’s a massive undertaking and a great opportunity for the team to show itself and learn what it takes to compete in Europe. We know we are going to have our backs against the wall but we’ll tackle it like we tackle everything else…come out swinging and see what happens when the dust settles. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube to ensure you’re not missing any of the shenanigans.