Drapac Professional Cycling welcomes the return of riders Will Clarke, Darren Lapthorne, Travis Meyer, Lachlan Norris and Bernard Sulzberger to the squad for 2015.
The five were instrumental to the success of the Australian-based UCI Professional Continental outfit this season and management is buoyed by their decision to re-sign.
Will Clarke –
The 29-year-old’s consistency has gone a long way towards arguably the best season of his career. Clarke was a standout in Drapac’s debut WorldTour appearance at the Tour Down Under in January, where he was the awarded the Most Competitive rider on three of the six stages. Clarke then went on to finish third in the Herald Sun Tour Prologue, claim a silver medal at the Oceania Individual Time Trial Championships and win the opening stage of the Tour de Perth. Internationally, Clarke wore the race leader’s jersey at the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan for two days after he finished runner-up on stage 2, he won the prologue and finished third on stage 6 of the Tour of Japan, at the Tour de Kumano Clarke won the prologue and was runner-up on two stages and then was a stage winner and twice runner-up at the Tour of Iran, where he also took out the Points Classification.
Clarke said that the he was looking forward to another season with Drapac.
“It was an easy decision [to return] for me,” he explained. “I enjoyed racing with the team and got some good results.
Drapac’s Director of Performance, Keith Flory, said that Clarke will again be a rider to watch next year.
“He’s had a fantastic year both with victories and some incredible team work and we’re excited to work with him on some new performance goals for the 2015 season,” Flory said.
Darren Lapthorne –
The 2007 Australian Road Champion will head into his seventh season with the squad in 2015. A key player in the nail-biting final few laps at the Cycling Australia Road National Championships, Lapthorne finished in sixth place in what was a gutsy performance. Lapthorne was on song at the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan, claiming third overall – the team’s best general classification result of 2014.
“I feel like I did most things right in 2014,” explained Lapthorne. “I think I gave myself every opportunity in most races to get results but just lacked a little luck this year which is why I had many top 10 results but no wins for the season.
“I still love racing my bike and believe we have a team that can achieve great things which I can contribute towards in 2015,” he concluded.
Flory praised Lapthorne’s ability to stand up and be counted.
“A growing leader of the team on the bike, Darren has showed everyone at both the Nationals and Tour d’Azerbaïdjan that he’s a very dangerous rider,” he said.
Travis Meyer –
With a determination that is tough to match, Meyer’s continued place in the squad was unquestionable. 2014 has been far from an easy one for the 25-year-old who was hit by a car while training for the Tour of Turkey in Andorra on April 12. He sustained a fractured jaw, a fractured right arm and significant bruising. Since making his return for the team at the Tour of China I, Meyer’s hard work has him on track for a strong second season with Drapac.
“My decision to remain with Drapac was an easy one,” he explained. “Drapac has been super supportive through my recovery after my accident in April and have given me the best opportunity to return in 2015 to full fitness. I never got to experience a full season with this great team, so I couldn't miss the chance next year.”
Flory said that he was looking forward to Meyer’s progression.
“After a career-threatening crash, Travis has worked incredibly hard to get back to the world class rider we know he is,” he explained. “Travis proved this over at the Tour of Hainan with some incredible team performances. 2015 will be an exciting year for Travis.”
Lachlan Norris –
Another consistent performer for Drapac in 2014, Norris has found himself in the thick of the action throughout the year. The 27-year-old collected a bronze medal at the Oceania Individual Time Trial Championships and then steadily built up his season for a solid block of racing in Asia. There, Norris finished top-10 in the general classification at the Tour de Kumano and then fourth overall at the Tour of Korea. However, the best was yet to come as he helped Drapac team make a firm statement of its intentions for the US racing scene over the next few years, claiming two top-10 stage finishes on the way to 10th overall at the Tour of Utah in what capped off a strong team performance.
Norris said that he was looking forward to another season with Drapac.
“It is never a decision to take lightly, but is always a relief once the decision is made and I can focus on the job at hand,” he said. “My personal racing highlight from this year was definitely the Tour of Utah but it was great to see some continued improvement throughout the season in many areas of my riding.
“There are certainly some aspects I will be taking from this season and working on for next year,” he continued. “I believe both the team and me personally will have a better understanding of the planning and structure of my racing and training to help get the most out of my performances on race day.”
Flory believes Norris has plenty to offer the team in the season ahead.
“Norris has taken some big steps forward this year and he’s really worked hard to achieve them,” he said. “His top 10 in Utah highlights his progression and we’re excited to see him continue to capitalise on those gains.”
Bernard Sulzberger –
In signing on for 2015, Sulzberger will head into his third season with Drapac. Sulzberger is the definitive team player and provides excellent leadership on the road. He was a silver medallist at this year’s Oceania Road Championships but his results belie the true impact of the amount of work that he does during a race.
“I have enjoyed my last two years with Drapac,” Sulzberger said. “It was an easy decision to continue working with the team for 2015. I enjoy riding for an Australian-based team and find the staff and riders are all of an easy-going nature which makes it a pleasant environment.
“The Tour of Taiwan is a goal for me in 2015 to try and defend my 2013 title,” he continued. “I feel it suits my riding style and me having to pull out this year due to tooth infection certainly makes this a big objective for me. Nationals next year would also be another big objective for the team and myself to do well.”
Flory is hopeful that Sulzberger has better luck with his health in 2015.
“Bernie has a natural instinct for racing and although he’s had his fair share of bad luck in 2014 with illness and injury, he’ll still prove to be incredibly dangerous for 2015,” he said.