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GreenEdge, Cycling Australia and Australian Institute of Sport forge Down Under’s 1st top-level women’s team

GreenEdge, Cycling Australia (CA) and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) have teamed up to deliver Australia’s first top-level UCI professional women’s cycling squad.

The team will race as GreenEdge-AIS, managed jointly by GreenEdge and CA/AIS High Performance Program staff.

Among its riders are world time trial champion Judith Arndt, formerly of HTC-Highroad; worlds TT silver medalist Linda Villumsen of New Zealand; former Giro Donne winner Claudia Häusler of Germany; and Dutch national team regular Loes Gunnewijk.

The squad will also include five Australians —Tiffany Cromwell, Shara Gillow, Melissa Hoskins, Jessie Maclean and Amanda Spratt.

Spratt won July’s Tour de Feminin-Krásná Lipa in the Czech Republic ahead of Hoskins. Gillow claimed the 2011 Australian and Oceania time trial titles and was the Oceania road race champion. She also won stage two of the Giro Donne to take the leader’s pink jersey before finishing ninth overall. Cromwell brings climbing prowess to the squad while Maclean adds options in sprint finishes.

Based on the riders’ current rankings GreenEdge-AIS will sit third in the UCI teams classification.

“We have contracted some of the top international riders to ensure the team has sufficient points to guarantee starts in the world’s major events,” said GreenEdge Cycling general manager Shayne Bannan, who said he considers the team “an authentic Australian venture.”

“They will also act as mentors for the younger, developing riders,” he added. “We will look to our international riders to provide the leadership and experience necessarily to create a culture of success. It’s our hope this culture will flow down through the domestic women’s development programs.”

Bannan says he expects the makeup of the team to evolve over the next three years to include a stronger representation of top-level Australian riders.

“While we will register only nine athletes with the UCI for the January 1 season start, there exists the potential to add neo-pros and other non-contracted Australians during the year,” he said.

Bannan and CA’s national performance director Kevin Tabotta will co-manage the team. CA national women’s road coach Martin Barras will be technical director while CA/AIS HPP graduate coach David McPartland travels with the team as team director.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will be officially launched during the Santos Tour Down Under in January in Adelaide.

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