Former world champion time trial bronze medalist and Olympian Christine Thorburn has retired, but the 2009 Webcor Builders Women’s Professional Cycling Team is pumping up for the future. Olympians Erinne Willock and Gina Grain have returned for another season.
The Redwood City, California team announced its 2009 official roster, building off of last season’s success of four Beijing Olympians. According to team director Karen Brems, this year’s goal will be to reassert the team’s dominance on the North American stage and road racing scene as it builds towards medal capability at the 2012 London Games.
"The Webcor Women's Cycling Team is a shining example of an organization that breeds success," Grain said. "Everyone involved, from riders to staff, demonstrates dedication, passion, determination, drive, perseverance, hard work, and a positive attitude.”
Willock and Grain are joined once again by Katheryn Curi Mattis, who made history in 2008 by becoming only the second US rider ever to win a International Cycling Union (UCI) Road World Cup event. Winning the Australia World Cup as part of her trade team sent the clear message that Webcor riders were competitive on the world stage.
Also returning are three rising talents who benefited immensely from racing at the highest level in Australia, New Zealand and Europe with their more experienced Webcor teammates in 2008. They are Rebecca Much, 2008 U23 US National Time Trial Champion, Amy Dombroski, 2008 U23 National Cyclocross Champion, and Janel Holcomb, second overall in the 2008 Green Mountain Stage Race.
International firepower for the 2009 team comes from Australia, with Nikki Butterfield (nee Egyed) and Alexis Rhodes.
"Butterfield’s daring solo breakaway at the 2008 World Championships Road Race and seventh at the Tour de Berne World Cup showed she will be a force on both the North American and international scene in 2009," Brems added. Meanwhile, Rhodes jump started her 2009 season, just missing her claim on the Australian National Time Trial Championship by a mere .6 seconds.
Thorburn retired from cycling after the 2008 world championships in Varese, Italy. Like her training mentor Eric Heiden, Thorburn has become a doctor.
"While (Christine) will be missed, the legacy of strong teamwork and striving for perfection that she instilled in the team over the past five years will live on," Brems said.
Mentoring newer riders in the sport has always been a Webcor tradition.
“The mix of senior and development riders has always been a blast and we all enjoy the give and take that comes with teaching and learning from each other,” said Willock, the student turned teacher, who is now a four-year Webcor team veteran and Olympian. The team has a strong history of Olympic qualifications in 2004 and 2008.
Over the last five years Webcor Builders has consistently been at or near the top of the National Racing Calendar and Women’s Prestige Series rankings. It has also taken North American Women’s Team of the Year awards. In 2008, they stepped up to become the only North American registered UCI Professional Women's trade team. Racing the most competitive events in world against the best riders in the world helped the team attain its lofty goal - qualifying four riders for the Beijing Olympics.
Leopard Cycles is the new bicycle sponsor, replacing Orbea.
2009 team roster: Karen Brems, team director; riders: Amy Dombroski, Nikki Egyed Butterfield, Gina Grain, Janel Holcomb, Katheryn Curi Matthis, Rebecca Much, Alexis Rhodes and Erinne Willock.
For more information, visit www.webcorcycling.com.