Former rider Loes Gunnewijk returns to ORICA-AIS in a new roleTue 5 Apr 2016
Former rider Loes Gunnewijk has set her sights on becoming a sports director in women's cycling and will rejoin the ORICA-AIS team throughout 2016 to learn what it takes via a ‘trainee’ position.
After spending the final three and a half years of her racing career with the Australian outfit, having joined in 2012 when the team first launched, Gunnewijk sees it as the perfect opportunity to utilise her extensive knowledge of women's racing.
"I am really looking forward to working with the girls and to start this kind of career," explained Gunnewijk. "There's so much to learn, so it's great that I already know the team really well, they're like my second family."
"Last year I got a scholarship from the UCI to do a sport director course, that was pretty special. It's a really great opportunity for me to get some experience with this team and how they are helping female riders stay within the sport.
"To have this opportunity so soon after I stopped racing and begin this role at a high level is very special."
The 35-year-old Dutch Olympian decided to hang up her wheels half way through the 2015 season, after racing 15 years as a professional rider on the road.
With an extensive list of palmares, including a world cup victory at Ronde van Drenthe, current sport director Gene Bates is looking forward to having Gunnewijk back within the squad.
"It's great that we have Loes coming on board to train with us, with ambitions to move into a sport director position in the future," said Bates. "She came along to the races in Drenthe last month to get a taste for it, and she will come along to the five day Energiewacht Tour to learn even more. After that Loes will take on her first real role for ORICA-AIS in Hagendorn, Boels Hills Classic and then Gooik."
"It's a bit of a natural progression for her after being a rider with the team for so long. She's had some time out, gone and done a directors course with the UCI, so to have her back in a different role is fantastic. We are looking forward to seeing how she finds it."
Within the men's professional peloton many former riders have become sport directors which has proven to be successful. Female directors are few and far between, so having a former world class female rider stay within the sport and progress into this role is something that the team is thrilled to support.
Gunnewijk will work alongside current ORICA-AIS sport directors Bates and Martin Barras throughout the 2016 season.