Being the editor of cyclingnz.com I had the privilege tonight of attending the launch of Pure Black Racing, the team born from the vision of Americas Cup grinder Carl Williams. The evening was hosted by the very personable Jon Bridges whom throughout the event passed the stage to speakers Yachting icon Peter Montgomery, Auckland MP Nikki Kaye and Business leader Greg Cross.
Williams a former World Champion Yachttie in the Star Class developed a passion for cycling during his days spent in Spain whilst part of the BMW Oracle team, the cross training activity soon grew to a dream to see a NZ backed formation taking part on the world's greatest stage and tonight Williams announced this vision to the nation in the presence of TV 1 and 3.
The select audience of some of New Zealand’s most prominent business leaders and MP's Trevor Mallard and Nikki Kaye set the positive tone that the venture has the support to back up the vision. Greg Cross of the Ice House whom has been a part of the venture since the formation of the original Bici Vida team of which Pure Black has evolved from has been instrumental in assembling the infrastructure to support the team which in 2011 will race as part of the UCI Continental calendar in the USA.
Here is what Pure Black announced tonight:
Pure Black Racing launched today, aiming to become New Zealand’s first international UCI ProTour road cycling team. Olympians, professional athletes, business figures, politicians and government agencies from around the country have shown strong support for the venture by attending the launch in Auckland.
Lead by America’s Cup yachtsman, Star Class World Champion and Olympian, Carl Williams, Pure Black Racing will compete in UCI’s US Continental Tour in 2011 with the ultimate aim of becoming a ProTour Team with entry to the Tour de France by 2015.
“The time is right for a New Zealand-based professional cycling team to compete at the highest level,” says Williams. “Cycling is the fastest growing sport in New Zealand and we have more cycling world champions than we have in any other sport. It’s a perfect time to establish what we hope will be an iconic Kiwi sports brand.”
“To prove yourself you have to compete against the best in the world,” says Williams. “That requires dedication, complete professionalism and a total team approach. We’re not in that position yet, but with the talent we have available, their commitment and the backing of a superb organisation, we know we can be.”
Williams caught the cycling bug while cross training for his America’s Cup campaigns and racing with a local club in Valencia. “In Europe team racing is where it’s at,” says Williams. “Regardless of level, riders race in teams. It’s a really big thing.
“My goal is to see Pure Black Racing competing in Europe against the world’s premiere cycling teams,” says Williams.
Team Pure Black Racing grew out of Team Bici Vida, a domestic high performance cycling team, which Williams launched on his return from Valencia. From day one Williams’ vision was to build a world-class international cycle team in New Zealand, establishing it as a fully professional sports organisation.
Bici Vida launched onto the New Zealand scene at the PowerNet Tour of New Zealand in November 2009. Starting with a core team of talented U23 riders, the team enjoyed exceptional success in New Zealand in its first year.
Achievements include Southland U23 classification winner, 1st and 2nd in the Hamilton Open, 1st in Taupo Street Race, 1st Taupo Avanti Classic, 1st Festival of Cycling Criterium, stage wins at Tour de Vineyards, U23 Road Champion, 1st SRAM Tour de Ranges, 1st The REV, wins at the BioSPORT City Criterium series and most recently 1st and 2nd in the four day BDO Twin Coast Cycle Challenge.
As the young Bici Vida team learned the benefits of making sacrifices for team success, their victories grew. Five of the Bici Vida team have crossed the line first this season alone. After the team’s success and watching New Zealand’s strong cycling showing during the Beijing Olympics, Williams knew the timing was perfect. “We just had a Kiwi take three podium finishes in the Tour de France. What better time to launch a New Zealand team to compete against the best in the world,” says Williams.
While Bici Vida’s success on the road came down to having the best people in the right places on the bikes, the team’s rapid and successful development came from having the right people off the bikes. Carl was joined by investor and entrepreneur, Greg Cross, as Business Director; former Executive Director at Owens Group, Rick Ellis, as Chairman; and cycling veteran Benny Devcich, as Director Sportif. That same team is now the driving force behind Pure Black Racing.
Greg affirms the team’s professionalism. “Carl’s relationships have enabled us to secure international gear sponsorships from Spanish cycling company Orbea and USA’s George Hincapie. Those relationships extend to the circuit: four of Bici Vida’s eight riders have been placed with the US continental team Rubicon-Orbea for the 2010 US season while we establish Team Pure Black Racing for the 2011 season.”
Benny ‘Wrenchman’ Devcich is a passionate and obsessive cyclist who has served with Batusi Racing, Flexpoint, T-Mobile, Highroad, HTC Columbia, Swedish National and New Zealand National teams. Bennie’s international experience, his understanding of team dynamics and his uncompromising professionalism are all important factors in developing and balancing the team’s wealth of young talent.
“There is still a lot of work to do to get Pure Black Racing in the winner’s circle,” says Cross. “Ultimately, to be successful we need the support of not only the New Zealand people, but Kiwi businesses as well.
As an international team, we’re looking to partner with the New Zealand export community as we take a highly visible Kiwi team to the world.”
Announcements on sponsorship, team members and team kit will be made over the coming months. Pure Black Racing is set to debut at New Zealand’s Tour of Southland in November. More information about supporting, following or joining the team can be found at: www.bicivida.com