With campus sport booming, the Sydney Uni Staminade women’s cycling team is set to compete for the second year in a row in the UCI’s (Union Cyclisite Internationale) Summer of Cycling. The tournament, which is run by Cycling Australia, consists of three races held around Australia, and is part of the top tier circuit of global cycling events.
The tracks to be raced include, the Tour Down Under, which is a traditional multi-day ‘stage’ race, held close to Adelaide, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, a relatively new, truncated race, and finally the Herald Sun Tour, held in Melbourne.
The riders will get an opportunity to race against the best athletes in the sport, with many world touring teams such as Sky, Mitchelton- Scott and the Australian Men’s and Women’s teams all taking part in the event.
It’s the second consecutive year Sydney Uni-Staminade has been invited to take part, a credit to their undeniable success. Typically, the team races in the NRS (National Road Series) tier, which is the premier road racing series in Australia, second to the international tag of the UCI. “We have been invited again this year off the back of the performances of our newly constituted Sydney Uni-Staminade team,” David Jordan, co-manager of the team, said, “Our women will be competing against professional female athletes from not only Australia, but also the rest of the world. It’s very exciting.”
The partnership between Sydney Uni and Staminade was born from the institute’s initial alliance with the women’s team at the NSW Institute of Sport, formally known as the NSWIS-Sydney Uni Women’s Team. However, at the beginning of 2018 NSWIS did not have the funding to compete in the NRS for another year. Fortunately, long time sponsor, Staminade, stepped up to make sure the Sydney Uni team remained a prominent force at national level.
Thus the Sydney Uni-Staminade Women’s Cycling team was born. “Even during the limbo period after we lost NSWIS, and before Staminade committed even further than what they already had, we were always solely committed to developing women’s racing, as we believe the greatest development opportunities for women’s cycling exist in a standalone women’s team,” Jordan said.
Due to the support from premier sponsor, Staminade, as well as Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness, Sydney Uni Velo Club, and the University of Sydney itself, the team will remain in the NRS tier for 2019 and beyond.
Key rider, Georgia Whitehouse, believes the team will be more successful this year as experience and team cohesion has had sufficient time to flourish. “The team is a year older now. We have experience working together and know how to harness each other’s strengths, as well as minimise weaknesses, which will make us a competitive team,” she said.
The formation of this team has been a shining light in the world of female sport, particularly on campus. Before Whitehouse was brought into the Sydney Uni-Staminade team, she was initially drawn to the number of fellow female riders at Sydney Uni’s cycling club, SUVelo. She joined the club as she knew she was about to start studying at USYD, and says the club immediately exceeded expectations, connecting her to like-minded women, and providing her with opportunities to develop through the ranks. Now at the top of the pack, Whitehouse believes she is part of something truly special. “The team is unique because it promotes a pathway for female athletes that combine cycling with excellence in tertiary education.”
Jordan, who, in addition to co-managing the team, was also one of the 12 disciples who got the ball rolling for the foundation of SUVelo back in 2010 says, “The reason we still exist is because we are totally committed to developing women’s cycling, particularly at the university. We grew out of Sydney’s best cycle racing club, and want our women to go on to be the very best they can be.”
When asked about what drives her to compete in this sport, Whitehouse said, “There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with hearing and feeling that mechanical buzz when you’re riding or racing in a bunch. That’s what makes people fall in love with the sport.”
The future looks bright for the Sydney Uni-Staminade cycling team, as they continue to provide a pathway for women, particularly students of Sydney University, to grow from riding local races, to competing on the world stage.