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GreenEdge Cycling, the management company behind the Orica – Scott men’s and women’s professional teams, will launch a new Chinese-registered UCI Continental development team for the coming season called Mitchelton – Scott.
The new team will be a collaboration between GreenEdge, Cycling Australia, and the Chinese Cycling association, and will include riders from both Australia and China. It’s creation is a result of the longstanding relationship between general manager Shayne Bannan and Chinese head coach Jingkan Shen.
“Mr. Shen and I have been in discussions about this project for the last decade,” Bannan said.
“Mitchelton – Scott is a collaboration by two different systems,” said Shen. “It’s a very good opportunity for Chinese riders to communicate with Australian riders and it should push Chinese cycling to a higher level.”
The creation of the team fits into a broader boom in Chinese interest in both professional and amateur bike racing, one that is fueled by one of the country’s richest men, Wang Jianlin. China recently regained a WorldTour event, the new Tour of Guangxi, and Jianlin is pushing his Wanda Group further into pro cycling by providing financial backing for a new UCI World Cycling Center satellite in China. Wanda is dipping a toe into race organization via Infront Media, which is organizing a series of races in Switzerland, South Africa, and the Netherlands. InFront works closely with Velon, the WorldTour team organization.
However, despite the influx of investment, there has been no direct pipeline for Chinese talent to step into European racing. With Mitchelton – Scott, the world’s most populous nation may have found one.
The team will primarily race in Asia and Europe and expects to begin racing in late February or early March. A preliminary roster of two Australian riders and six Chinese riders has been announced, with additional names to be added based on results of the Australian summer race season.
The Chinese riders are Xue Chaobua (24), Qin Chenlu (24), Xue Fuwen (20), Liu Hao (28), Sun Xiaolong (22), and Bi Wenhui (23). The Australian riders are Harrison Sweeney (18) and Robert Stanndard (18).
“To be able to contribute to the development of our local Australian riders and those from China is something we are very proud of,” Bannan said. “For China, this is the first project of its kind and it’s also the evolution of Australia’s WorldTour Academy to enhance the pathway for local riders too.”