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Retired Orica-AIS rider Loes Gunnewijk is returning to her former Australian team as a sports director “in training”.
Gunnewijk completed the UCI sport director course last year and is keen to utilise her extensive knowledge of women’s racing to give back to the team she calls her second family.
“Last year I got a scholarship from the UCI to do a sport director course, that was pretty special. It’s a really great opportunity for me to get some experience with this team and how they are helping female riders stay within the sport,” stated Gunnewijk. “I am really looking forward to working with the girls and to start this kind of career. There’s so much to learn, so it’s great that I already know the team really well, they’re like my second family.”
Gunnewijk joined Orica-AIS in 2012 and went into early retirement in the spring of 2015, when she was unable to return to her old form after breaking her shoulder during the BeNe Ladies Tour the summer before. She had been a professional cyclist for 15 years.
On her extensive list of results, most prominent are her win in the 2010 World Cup Ronde van Drenthe, the national road championship title in that same year, and winning the Omloop het Nieuwsblad in 2012.
Current sport director, Gene Bates, is happy to welcome Gunnewijk back to the team,and looks forward to working with her again.
“It’s a bit of a natural progression for her after being a rider with the team for so long. She’s had some time out, gone and done a directors course with the UCI, so to have her back in a different role is fantastic. We are looking forward to seeing how she finds it,” Bates said. “She came along to the races in Drenthe last month to get a taste for it, and she will come along to the five day Energiewacht Tour to learn even more. After that Loes will take on her first real role for Orica-AIS in Hagendorn, the Boels Rental Hills Classic and then Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik.”
Throughout the 2016 season, Gunnewijk will work alongside current Orica-AIS sport directors Bates and Martin Barras to gain experience.
Female directors are few and far between with currently only one female sport director at a top UCI-team, which is Rochelle Gilmore at Wiggle-High5. Maybe Gunnewijk will start a trend.