November 15, 2011

Tassie Girls Dominate

Tasmania happens to be one of those places that is just the right size. Tasmanian’s can be found all over the world but it is still a special place to them all.  I happen to be one of them, as is Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling founder Nigel Baker. For those of you who didn’t know, Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling sponsors and supports men, women and juniors on their team.

My conversation with Nigel Baker CEO and Team Manager of Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling started with the same words that every conversation with a Tasmanian starts with, “are you from the north or the south?”

Luckily, both Nigel and I are from the North of Tasmania and got down to business. Women’s cycling, accounting firm Deloitte’s, accommodation group Pure Tasmania, riders Belinda Goss, Grace Sulzberger and Georgia Baker were at the top of my list for discussion.

Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling Team
Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling Team

I had been interested in hearing about how Georgia Baker was doing and where her mind was. Yes, she had won Silver and Gold at the 2011 Junior World Track Championships, but, about 10 weeks out from the World Championships Georgia had crashed in a criterium and knocked five of her teeth out.
Nigel, and all those who surround her and support her thought it would be an end to the World Championships. Georgia was adamant that she was going to the World Championships, which I think is a brave and motivated decision. Nigel told me that Georgia’s character held strong. Georgia was back doing ergo’s three days later, was back on the bike on day four, followed by riding around with no teeth for another five.

Georgia Baker - Junior World Champion (LEFT)
Georgia Baker - Junior World Champion (LEFT)

Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling Team is clearly a development squad, that’s not to say they don’t win, they do and they win well. You only have to look at cyclist Grace Sulzberger to see that they win. The 2011 Women’s National Road Champion is heading to the top and with brothers like Wesley and Bernard Sulzberger, Nigel thinks it’s possible that this Tasmanian could lead a team like GreenEdge. Grace has the mind space to take on the challenge, she was born to race.

Grace was affected by an eating disorder early on in her cycling career and took two years off. Grace has been back on the bike for about twelve months, in that 12 months she has stayed on top and Nigel is confident that she will make the Australian Institute of Sport selection for 2012.

Graze Sulzberger - National Road Champion
Graze Sulzberger - National Road Champion

Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling has modest aims over the next five years. Winning is great and sponsor Pure Tasmania understand the development side of things, they realise that winning takes time and are happy to be a part of the process. Deloitte coming on board is a local story and Christopher Bishop was the encouragement required to put in a proposal to Deloitte’s for sponsorship, they said yes. Nigel is very aware that talent is important but he’s also looking for juniors who have the right mind set to follow through and be able to realise their goals.

Tasmanian cyclist Matt Goss is supporting the foundation that Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling is creating. Matt started when there was no team structure and it was much harder to get support. Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling is hoping to make the process easier, not just financially but with proper support and an professional team structure.

The support for women’s cycling takes two steps forward and three steps back, Nigel is hoping that we can make a change in the way racing is being run in Australia, more communications between organisations and more discussion. To stagger racing over different weekends or weeks, instead of putting the biggest events all on the one weekend; women’s cycling won’t gain anything from our inability to communicate and ask.

Two years ago in Tasmania on a weekend bunch ride, Nigel says he would have seen about five women in bunches, these days he sees a lot more, around fifty. Nigel is in agreement that there are more women riding but they’re not competing; there aren’t enough women at the same standard to have women’s only grades. The only bonus to having no women’s grades in Tasmania is that girls like Grace, Georgia and Amy Cure are racing against the guys, which makes them stronger.

Tasmanian Cyclist Belinda Goss is on her way, she spent some time with the Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling and was based mostly in Europe this year, after a three month stint at the AIS training base. Belinda a former track cyclist and World Champion has signed a pro contract with German Professional UCI team Abus NUTRIXXION for the 2012 season.

It’s clear that women’s cycling is certainly on the up in Tasmania and all over Australia, there is more racing than there was two years ago and there are more women cycling, even I’ve seen the increase in female participation since I started riding three years ago.

It’s clear that there is a place for women’s cycling and there is support, communication between the most vital organisations is what will form the foundation that these women crave so much. We have the riders and Tasmania without doubt has the talent, women’s cycling across Australia is beaming with talent, the lack of clarity amongst organisations is what causes women’s cycling to take two steps forward and three steps back.

Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling is one organisation that is looking forward to the future, it is a unique organisation that has many of the same great characteristics, we wish them the best, from one Tasmanian to another.
In Launceston this weekend, the Junior National Track Series continues at the Launceston Silverdome, 19th November at 2:00pm, if you’ve never seen track racing before then this is a great opportunity to check it out.

*Pictures from Pure Tasmania-Deloitte TIS Cycling

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