Trio of comeback queens headline 2015 signings

Wed 15 Oct 2014

A trio of homegrown talent, each with an impressive comeback story, has signed with ORICA-AIS for the 2015 season.

Victorians Chloe McConville and Lizzie Williams and New South Wales’ Sarah Roy will join the Australian professional women’s cycling team looking for further success in its fourth season.

The announcement comes as the outfit take a well deserved break following a successful 2014 season which sport director Gene Bates said had the typical highs and lows but some very memorable highlights.

“In my first season, I was extremely happy and proud to be able to work with such a talented and motivated group of athletes,” Bates said.

“Some of the highs were definitely our silver medal at the world championships in the team time trial, Valentina Scandolara’s victory in the Giro del Trentino and Emma Johansson’s win at the Cittiglio World Cup and also finishing as the second ranked rider in the world again.”

With attention already turning to 2015, an ambitious ORICA-AIS will attack the season with a clear set of objectives, looking to get the most out of the entire squad.

“Next year we are going in with a really specific plan for the season,” Bates said. 

“We want to concentrate on targeted races and really focus on preparing the riders for those goals right from the get-go at the start of the season. 

“It puts accountability on the riders but also just makes them feel like they are really wanted within the team, rather than just going around helping others for the full season.”

McConville, the most experienced of the three 2015 signings, is welcomed into the ORICA-AIS squad after racing with the national team in recent seasons.

Fighting for Commonwealth Games selection the 27-year-old was in the form of her career earlier this season, which saw her finish second from a breakaway in the Energiewacht Tour in Holland, before she was struck down with deep vein thrombosis and bilateral pulmonary embolisms.

After months of hard work and the all clear, McConville has a new appreciation for her time on the bike. 

“It was pretty much life threatening kind of stuff,” she said of her condition earlier in the year. “They didn’t really think that I should have still been walking let alone that fact I had been racing my bike for three weeks with it.”

“You don’t know what you will miss until it gets taken away so I have this whole new appreciation of how much I want it and how hard I am willing to work for it and hopefully that will lead to bigger and better things this year.”

Roy will once again race for an Australian team having raced for French outfit Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86 where she prospered in a lead out role in 2014.  The current Australian criterium champion will add some valuable pace to the ORICA-AIS finish. 

The 28-year-old had her own battle with injuries between 2010 and 2013 suffering from two knee injuries eventuating in surgery and then suffering another yearlong setback injuring her hip in a fall riding home from training on her road to recovery.

“The team cohesion and commitment to each other will be new to me and will be exciting,” Roy said of the move to ORICA-AIS.

“The team I worked on this year really struggled to come together to get a result.  I was leading out my sprinters but I had three sprinters to lead out so there was a bit of competition within the team.  But these girls work really well together as a unit with a goal in mind and everyone is committed to each other which will be a really great environment.”

After a hiatus of a different kind, Williams returns to professional racing after choosing to prioritise many of life’s other offerings, including becoming a secondary school teacher, for the last decade.

Now 31 years of age, Williams had unfinished business on the bike and after almost immediate success on the local Cycling Australia domestic scene in her return this season, earned herself a two month position on team Vanderkitten in the US and Canada and then the Amy Gillett Cycling Scholarship which had her racing with the Australian Endurance Program in Europe for two months. 

“It's simple, I'm enjoying racing my bike again,” Williams said on her immediate success on return to racing this year.  “The hunger and drive has been reignited within me and all I want is to do is reach the top.”

“My goal for 2015 is to take risks and back my capabilities. Also, gaining experience and respect from my teammates and racing peloton will also be an important part of my transition into professional cycling.  I want to climb onto that top step more than once, I’m not a very good loser, just ask one of my six brothers.”

Each of the three new additions have impressed this year not only with results but in commitment levels to return to the top level of racing and Bates is confident they will all be valuable insertions into the team in 2015.

“Watching Chloe from the start of the season we were super impressed with her attitude within a team situation,” Bates said. “She is a natural leader when it comes to those really tricky situations and I think we will see her stepping up into one of those leadership roles very quickly in the team.”

“Sarah spent this season riding on a French team. Coming across to our team she will really be able to ride in a true team environment so we think she will really flourish. This year she has done a lot of leading out, but we really think she is capable of taking it one step further and actually be able to finish off races.

“Lizzie is probably the most inexperienced rider out of the three coming into the team.  She has got the ability to climb, she has good bike handling and she can also sprint so when you have someone with those three attributes you really have a powerful rider. With the right guidance by our experienced leaders and the right environment, we think we will get a lot out of her next season.”

ORICA-AIS will kick start 2015 on Australian soil, racing in the Bay Cycling Classic, Australian championships, Santos Women’s Series in Adelaide and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.