Beverly Hills, Calif. – Amidst Australian dignitaries, shapely flight attendants and a packed ballroom of invitation-only guests, sponsors and media, the Fly V Australia professional cycling team was unveiled Friday night at the posh Montage hotel in Beverly Hills.
The Honorable Peter Beattie, Queensland’s Trade Commissioner, was on hand to help introduce 10 of the team’s 15 riders, as well as Team Owner Chris White, Technical Director Ed Beamon and the team’s management and staff. Several of the Fly V Australia red, white and black De Rosa bicycles were on display as the backdrop for the ceremony.
White beamed with pride as he told the audience gathered at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant that the second-year, Australian-registered team was doing things “a bit differently” in its quest to one day become a ProTour team and compete in the sport’s greatest races, including the Tour de France.
“We’re haven’t gone straight to Europe. We’re going to Europe via America,” White said. ”We see America as the doorway to Europe and great events like the Amgen Tour of California as the entryway into the Grand Tours.”
Among the 15 riders on Fly V Australia are 10 Australians, two South Africans and one rider each from Canada, Italy and the United States. Ten of the 15 were on hand Friday and escorted through the crowd by female V Australia “cabin crew” attendants: Alessandro Bazzana, Jonathan Cantwell, Jai Crawford, Ben Day, Charles Dionne, Aaron Kemps, Darren Lill, Bernard Sulzberger, David Tanner and Phil Zajicek. Missing were Hayden Brooks, Ben Kersten and Jay Thomson (who were racing) and Darren Rolfe and David Kemp (who were attending Rolfe’s wedding). Additionally, Director Sportif Henk Vogels was absent due to the recent birth of his fourth child.
White said the team exudes the true meaning of “mateship” – a word that is printed inside the collar of the team’s Santini racing jerseys.
“Mateship is pulling at the front of the bunch for hours on end so that you can deliver a race win,” White said. “It is making sure your mate has enough water to finish the stage. It is making sure all the little things are done that you might not otherwise want to do.”
In 2009, Fly V Australia won 94 races. The team’s U.S. racing schedule begins March 19 at the San Dimas Stage Race and continues through September, highlighted by anticipated participation in stage races such as the Amgen Tour of California, the SRAM Tour of the Gila, the Tour de Beauce in Canada and the one-day International Classic in Philadelphia.
In addition to nearly 200 race days in North America, Fly V Australia also hopes to land berths in late-season European races like the Tour of Ireland and the Tour of Britain before resuming its Australian program with the Tour of Tasmania, the Sun Tour and the Australian criterium series in November and December.
Stay tuned for an exclusive podcast with interviews with Ben Day, Jonathan Cantwell, Aaron Kemps, Chris White, and Phil Zajicek, as well as a video of the teams training camp.
Images courtesy: Brian Hodes, VeloImages