“I’m really happy with the team, so it was an easy decision to make,” said Gunnewijk. “I love the family feeling. I love that everyone on this team knows when it’s time to be serious but also how to relax when it’s time to relax. It’s a good mix of very professional and very fun.”
Gunnewijk was the first non-Australian rider that Sport Director Dave McPartland approached when he was involved in the creation of the women’s team two years ago. He considers Gunnewijk an integral part of the team’s backbone both on and off the bike.
“It was a special moment when we signed Loes a couple years ago,” said McPartland. “She was the first foreigner we approached. We’ve been super happy with her contributions over the last two years. To have her choose to stay with us again makes me really happy. It’s good to see she considers us as good of a match as we consider her.”
“Loes has been with us right from the start,” McPartland added. “She’s been through the whole set-up process with us. She knows the team. She knows what we stand for and the way we ride. She brings our clear vision to her leadership role.”
With her wealth of experience, time trial savvy and an ability to chase results in the Spring Classics, Gunnewijk would be a welcome addition to most teams. The ease with which she fills the road captain role makes her invaluable to ORICA-AIS.
“Her leadership abilities clearly stand out,” said McPartland. “That’s the most obvious thing we get out of Loes that we can’t get from our other riders. She carries a fair bit of responsibility in terms of teaching, communicating and decision-making.”
“I would like to give Loes more freedom over the next two years,” added McPartland. “Some of the girls she’s been mentoring can assume more responsibilities during a race. I imagine this would allow Loes more space. It would be a weight off her shoulders and maybe could translate into a few personal opportunities for her as well.”
Happy to support her teammate’s quest for victory, Gunnewjik is equally adept at capitalizing on moments ripe for personal glory. Two years ago, the versatile rider delivered the team’s first European victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Gunnewijk calls it a stand-out moment during her time spent with the team.
“It’s quite difficult to pick a highlight,” Gunnewijk said. “There are too many for me to name all of them. My win in Het Nieuwsblad last year was quite special. I also liked winning the bronze medal yesterday in the team time trial at the Worlds and the silver medal with the team last year. There are many more moments, but those are the first special ones to come into my mind.”
Gunnewijk hopes to build on the many objectives her team has accomplished under her watch while continuing to target the events she circles on the calendar each year.
“My role will not change,” said Gunnewijk. “I’ll be the team captain and teach the Australian girls all about European racing. I hope to lead the team to a lot of wins. For myself, I want to have another good Spring Classics season. The goals are always first the Spring Classics and then the Nationals, Holland Ladies Tour and the Worlds.
“I also want to continue to have a good time,” she added. “That’s always easy with this team.”