High5 Dream Team: Trying to set a higher benchmark

Peloton Cafe || 2015 Tour of the Goldfields - High5 Dream Team

Peloton Cafe || 2015 Tour of the Goldfields – High5 Dream Team (image copyright Jarrod Partridge)

By Jamie Finch-Penninger?? @FishysCP

The big hitters of High5 Dream Team are coming into their second season in the NRS after putting together a superb set of results in their debut year to win the NRS Teams Classification, and have the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed riders on the individual standings. An eight-rider squad has been announced for next season, with young star Ainslie Bakker, the returning Jessica Allen and powerful climber Lucy Kennedy joining the team for 2016. Peloton Caf? spoke to team owner Rochelle GILMORE about the new additions.

?We?ve got three new riders for 2016, I think they?ve all got something really valuable that they can bring to the team. The team rode more united than any other team in 2015, that?s what made them so strong. With these new riders, in addition to what they had in 2015, they?ll be able to control the races a bit more. That will come as they learn to ride as a team and share around the responsibility. I think it?s a good mix, and I look forward to seeing what they can achieve under Donna in 2016.?

Lucy Kennedy is coming off her best recent form with a stage win at the Tour of Bright on the way to finishing 2nd overall. She?s a really strong individual, particularly for a climber, and is equally at home putting the power down on the flat as well as the hills. ?The strength of Lucy Kennedy will be really important to the team, her numbers during the national team selection camp were extremely good, put her on a time trial bike and she?s going to make the world of difference to a team time trial. She?s like Tessa Fabry, a rider who likes those really hard races.?

19-year-old Ainslie Bakker is a rider that many have predicted to be a star of the women?s peloton for a long time, and it?s a smart move for her to join the High5 Dream Team as the High 5 / Rochelle GILMORE pathway through to the World Tour is probably the smoothest way to transition to Europe for an aspiring rider in Australia. She?s only been racing for a year as a cyclist, which was why her immediate top level performances were such a surprise for those watching. She?s still got a lot of developing to do, which is why she is attracting so much interest at the moment. Gilmore again, ?I haven?t actually had the privilege of watching Ainslie Bakker race yet, but when I came back in 2015, she was the only rider I heard about from the NRS. I?m really excited to watch her race, and I?m sure she?ll be a star of the future.?

There?s only a few changes in their squad for this season, but it will be harder this time around, as a number of riders will have more of a split focus. Second in the overall individual NRS standings last year was Georgia Baker, but she will have her eyes firmly on making the Rio Olympics squad and doing well there, which will certainly have an effect on her race schedule for High 5 Dream Team. ?For Georgia Baker, the main priority has to be the Olympic Games. She has a great chance to make the team on the track, not every rider gets the chance to represent their nation at the Olympics. As a team, we?ll do everything we can to strengthen her chances at getting selected, but that will include doing some races on the road to help her track form.?

The squad looks to have been improved by the additions to the riders, but with that comes other problems, particularly when lots of riders will be overseas with national squads or doing other racing disciplines. That will mean the focus won?t be so much on the Georgia Bakers and Kimberley Wells of the team, but the riders that are there all year round, and can stay away from injury.

When it comes to Women?s NRS teams, the High5 Dream Team are really the standouts in the peloton. Their riding staff, career progression pathways, rider support, tech and nutrition are unmatched by the other teams and currently set a benchmark that shows what the NRS could be if everyone reaches similar levels. Of course, that?s improbable in the current climate, but in a few years of steady progression and squads like High5 Dream Team showing the way, then this sort of level could become the norm.

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