Grenfell seals move to competitive cyclist racing team

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Sydney University Elite Athlete Program (EAP) scholarship holder Phil Grenfell will join American continental team Competitive Cyclist Racing Team in 2012, with the 22-year-old doing enough to impress team manager Gordon Fraser in this year’s Australian National Road Series to seal the move to the professional ranks.

Grenfell rode this season with domestic team, picking up wins at the Tour of Gippsland, Tour of the Murray River and Tour of Tasmania. Though there had been discussion to stay in Australia, Grenfell felt with the advent of the NRC criterium series, it was a perfect time to make the switch overseas.

“It was a goal I had at the beginning of the year,” said Grenfell. “To have a good season here, get some results, and move over to the US. I just thought that the racing over there suits my characteristics and it’s also a great pathway for progression. [ manager Trent Wilson] thought the same thing. So to be able to actually now be doing it is perfect.

“Going to Europe would’ve been too much too soon. This way I get to go to the US and come back late in the season for a few races in Australia as well.”

The Australian explained that Competitive Cyclist Racing’s lack of sprinting depth would also allow him plenty of opportunities next season. The team dominated the stage racing calendar with Francisco Mancebo, but were not quite as consistent when it came bunch dashes and criteriums.

“That was definitely something that attracted me to the team, the fact that they don’t have that many guys that can finish off a race. Gord [Fraser] was saying to me he felt the team gave away a lot of results [this season] because they lacked a sprinter. That’s a role I hope to fill.”

Grenfell will link up with the team in January but is first hoping to win the Australian criterium championship in Buninyong, a race that is likely to be see Grenfell competing against some pretty familiar faces.

“It’ll be against pretty much all the guys from the Tour of the Murray River, Ben Kersten, Jonathan Cantwell, Steele Von Hoff, etc. That’s my first big goal for the year, I’ll do Bay Crits to get some good racing in the legs before that and then hopefully I can take it out.”

The sprinter joins a growing number of Australians successfully graduating from the domestic circuit to professional careers overseas.