The UK's annual Caravan and Boat show was given another dose of glamour when the girls from Team Swift Racing launched their 2008 line up at the Birmingham event.
Swift Racing was born out of the Global Racing Team and was the UK's first UCI registered pro women's squad. It's now wholly based in Belgium and is looking forward to another big season with 17 riders and a new sponsor. Swift Motor Homes has committed to long term sponsorship which will fund a new initiative to find and train top riders from the UK in the build up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
"We are of course very focused on the British side of the team," team manager Stefan Wyman told BikeRadar. "One of the major commitments I've given to our sponsor is that we will build up the British element for 2012 and we will look to try to focus our efforts on finding new talents and develop them for the London Olympics. So we have got a big commitment to those young British riders and we are actively looking for more.
"We are getting CVs in now from other riders and there won't be any British riders that we won't be able to help in some way. Hopefully those CVs will keep coming in and we can show that we are a good alternative for people who don't quite make the British Cycling programme or if that programme doesn't quite fit their goals and ambitions either.
"I certainly don't see us as being any kind of second rate team to what BC are trying to do. We are trying to work in harmony with them and alongside them, but we have of course different goals, targets and different ways of getting there."
Wyman added that it will be the team's first year as Swift Racing. "One of our main focuses will be getting the girls to gel as a team, making sure that they've all met all of their personal goals and we will help them in every way we can achieve that and try and ensure that we can put together the necessary pathways for them to move forward.
"In terms of results, everyone will have their own individual target and I hope that we can move into the top 20 in the world team ranking this year, which would be excellent progress for us. I hope we can challenge strongly in some of the tours, win some jerseys. We don't always go to the races and go out for the win - sometimes we're going out for our own targets which might be winning a young person's jersey or king of the mountain jersey or sprinters jersey, and the team work that is involved in those goals is the sort of team work that can win a race. They learn to do it that way, it will move on and the team will only get better."
David Williams, the business unit manager for Swift Motor Homes, told BikeRadar, "It's good to see the company now backing British sport, trying to get the cycling team promoted and supported in a way that allows them to perform well in their competitions.
"It's great to be behind women's racing in particular. It's getting behind the right people and giving the opportunity to perform well and I think that's something that has been lacking previously."
Riders already signed to ride for Swift Racing include:
- Emma Davies Jones (GBr)
- Alice Monger-Godfrey (GBr)
- Gabby Day (GBr)
- Helen Wyman (GBr)
- Louise Moriarty (Irl)
- Jenny Fay (Irl)
- Toni Bradshaw (NZl)
- Marina Duvnjak (NZl)
- Ine Beyen (Bel)
- Lien Beyen (Bel)
- Debby van den Berg (Ned)
- Sigrid Jochems (Ned)
- Sarah Reynolds (GBr) Junior