It’s Junior Tour Season!

Posted: February 25, 2016 in Tips & Hints

It sure rolls around fast… one minute it’s track season and the next we’re moving onto the road.  Of course for those riders lucky enough to be representing their state at the National Junior Track Champs, they’re all still be going around in circles… but those who haven’t get to enjoy the wide open spaces of the roads.

One junior tour that I’ve written about a number of times before in this blog is the Central Districts Junior Tour.  To be held this year on April 23rd and 24th, the CDJT is one of my favourites.  They just do it well!  Four stages – tick.  Amazing courses – tick.  Great organisation – tick.  Good safety – tick.  There’s nothing not to like about this tour.  I would encourage as many interstate riders as possible to make the trip to SA for one of the highlights on the JT calendar… you won’t be disappointed!


The other cool about the CDJT is you get to wear cool helmet covers… ok, maybe they’re not that cool!

Shame about Ararat and Canberra clashing on May 7th and 8th.  My understanding is it isn’t anyones fault per se, but there definitely needs to be some flexibility and communication amongst host clubs and state federations.  I know the Cycling Victoria calendar was out last November, but equally the Canberra Junior has been on this weekend for the past two years… any how, I know which tour I’d be going to!

I heard a whisper that the Eidlon JT will run on the Friday and Saturday this year to allow host club Blackburn to run a senior event on the Sunday.  It’s school holidays in Victoria (not sure about the other states… it’s scheduled for 9th and 10th July).  This definitely won’t be a problem for the kids and I think parents will do what they need to to make sure they get to the pick of the Victorian JT’s.

As you may have noticed, CyclingDad has been quiet of late.  Partly due to no longer having a junior cyclists (it only seems like yesterday I was cheering for the under-11s!) and partly due to being very busy in my real job.

Again, I’d be happy to hear from anyone keen to take over this blog and keep it going with up to date and topical content.  Please email me at cyclingdad101 (at) if you’re keen.

An interesting (and well written) article republished by RIDE Mag this morning on social media discussing the eating habits (disorders) of professional riders and whether this is healthy or a good example for younger riders.

When Sky implemented it’s liquid diet in the lead-up to Bradley Wiggins history breaking tour win some eyes were raised but it wasn’t really spoken about.  It was one of Sky’s famous 1%’ers and besides, methods of weight management/loss have been a part of the sport for decades, but generally kept as part of the omertà.  What are those wafers that some riders put under their tongue to suppress their hunger?

How skinny is too skinny for pros and juniors alike?

Speaking with a number of pros and ex-pros at the time, no one was shocked with Sky’s methods of managing their riders weight, with most suggesting it was probably just more ‘scientific’ than other teams/riders methods.  But one look at Wiggins (whom some people dubbed ‘Twiggo’) and Froome and Porte and it was plan to see they were walking a delicate tightrope of weight loss versus staying healthy.

I guess my question is what impact/influence does this look/regime have on young growing bodies?  When kids see their heroes doing it, do they also try and get skinny… and if they do, is it being monitored by professionals?  Unlikely.

I’m not saying it’s prevalent in junior cycling in Australia.  I can’t even think of an anecdotal example of seeing a kid get too skinny.  But weight is definitely something that young riders are aware of and discuss, especially in the lead-up to road season.  It’s ok to put weight on for track season, but the moment road season comes around it’s about losing those extra track kilos.

I guess this isn’t meant to be a scare mongering post, just a reminder for parents to be aware and to discuss weight and what your kids are eating and to make sure you get advice if you need it.  Here’s to happy and healthy cycling…

Another interesting article on this topic was published on CyclingTips a few years back.

Just a bit of an inconsistency that’s has been brought to my attention… an issue not so relevant to a lot of junior parents… yet; but it’s likely will be.

When does one age-category finish and another begin?  Is it the 1st of October for ALL disciplines or is that just for track?  I was of the opinion (after seven years in the sport) that come the 1st of October riders moved up a year – either to the next age-category or to the second-year of their existing category.  This is one of the confusing things about the sport for those new to it!  At any rate, seems I was wrong… at least in Victoria.

If I was in South Australia, Tasmania or even Queensland I would have been right… In NSW I would have been mainly right… but Cycling Victoria claim that the CA policy is that you only move up for track on the 1st of October and for road you don’t move up until the 1st of January of the following year.

And guess what… CV is right!  Although the policy is hard to find, it’s not in the Tech Regs but in the By-Laws (wait for the language, it’s hysterical!):

2.18.11  For summer track season competition, all members who are due to change category at the new membership year commencing 1 January of that respective season will compete in that track season in that higher age category from the commencement of that season, being 1 October.

So if that is the CA policy, why is CV the only state enforcing it?  Why are all the other states ignoring/disregarding this policy?  Can I opine that the way the other states are doing it… just makes more sense!  Perhaps they are using this CA by-law as justification:  A cyclist may compete in an event of a different age category, older category in the case of junior and younger category in the case of masters, provided such events are approved by CA or a Constituent Association.

The way this is written is even harder to interrupt: aren’t all events approved by CA or a Constituent Association (State Federation)?  Is it the cyclist who needs to ask for approval or does the event seek it on behalf of the cyclist wanting to ride up or down?   I know Cycling SA wrote to CA to seek approval for it’s graduating junior riders to be allowed to ride ‘up’ a year or so back – but that was for a specific group of strong under-17 riders requested back in 2012.

Personally, I’m ambivalent about what the policy is… AS LONG IT IS WELL COMMUNICATED AND CONSISTENT FROM STATE-TO-STATE.  Is that too much to ask?

I actually can’t see any justifiable reason for the age category not to change on the 1st of October for all disciplines.  Someone please come up with a good argument, I’d love to hear it.  It would avoid the confusion and play to the blurring of the line between road and track season.

No one can tell me it’s a health and safety issue – these riders are already pushing the big gears on the track (which has no gear limits).  Most of them are also already riding against the ‘big boys’ and have been for a number of years at the local criteriums – with a lot of the first-year 19’s (or top-year 17’s or whatever you want to call them?) already racing in A-grade.

This is such a ridiculous policy that while a graduating under-19 can’t race in C-grade at the Tour of Bright, on the same weekend they can fly down to Tassie and race shoulder-to-shoulder with Caleb Ewan and Michael Matthews in two criteriums.  That while they can race the MS Wollongong Crit as under-19 on the 1st of November, a few weeks later they’ll have to put their under-17 gear back on for the St Kilda Super Crit.  Madness!

Chris Froome racing in Tassie last year with a couple of first-year under-19's in the background! What an experience!

Chris Froome and Richie Porte racing in Tassie last year with a couple of first-year under-19’s in the background! What an experience for them!

Now I realise CA has had a bit going on over the past year or so and that reviewing this policy probably sits below sock-height in priority, but it should be an easy fix… or maybe it doesn’t need to be fixed, only interrupted consistently by state federations?

The only reason CyclingDad got involved in this was because other cycling parents asked the same question last year and were simply told: that’s the way it is… and that’s not a good enough answer IMO.  Love to hear your thoughts?

When the start lists for the CA Junior Road Nats ITT came out today, CyclingDad received a number of emails and messages about the seeding – or perceived lack thereof.

Now CyclingDad doesn’t like to do negative posts, so I’ll try and do a constructive post to hopefully improve this process for next year and beyond.

I was sent some correspondence with CA from a ‘concerned parent’ that questioned the seeding for the weekend and how it was arrived at.  The correspondent in question was quite calm and reasonable in his argument that CA got the seeding pretty wrong.  He was also thankful that the powers that be within CA actually responded to his questions in a timely manner and attempted to explain how it seeded the riders for the ITT.

Cutting and pasting from the email response sent to him from CA:

U15M – Not one of the top 8 from last year is competing in the U15’s this year, so these seeding were given with a ranking for the first 10 and alphabetical for the rest. (CD: But how was the seeding for the first 10 arrived at?)
U15W – The top 3 seeds all finished in the top 10 last year, the next 7 were then allocated alphabetical.
U17W – The top 2 both finished in the top 10 last year, then the next 8 were ranked with 5 of those finishing in the top 8 in the U15W last year.
U17M – The top 4 were the highest place (CD: bottom age) riders in the U17 from last year results (4,7,8,9), then the next 6 were the highest placings from the U15’s last year. 
Common sense and some research would provide a better and more accurate seeding system.  It can't be that hard!

Common sense and some research would provide a better and more accurate seeding system. It can’t be that hard!

Now without going through last year’s results and this year’s seedings, lets take this at face value.  Does this method make any sense?  Does it provide the best seeding outcome?  I guess we’ll find out on Friday afternoon, but at first sight it seems flawed at best… and probably very antiquated – going back to a time before the internet when results weren’t readily available at the click of a button.  Maybe it made sense then.  It makes no sense now!  It was seemingly done this way, because it’s always been done this way.

All of the weighting on the seeding was placed on last year’s nationals.  Oddly it seems that the previous year’s top-age riders – who moved up to a higher age-category (under-15 to under-17) – are rated significantly more highly than the previous year’s bottom-aged riders, now racing top-age in that same category… if that makes sense??  And it doesn’t.  Especially with the introduction of the much bigger jump in gear size.

The biggest example of how badly this current seeding method has failed is to look at the JM15s, where Graeme Frislie (VIC) hasn’t been seeded.  Now Graeme won the ITT at the Shepparton JT in June, on the same course and against many of the seeded riders in the JM15 category.  Graeme won his state ITT title against all of the 10 Victorian riders that have been seeded for nationals, while he hasn’t.  Every man and his dog who has followed junior cycling this year knows Graeme will start as one of the favourites this weekend in all three of the disciplines he competes in.  Simply; because the existing process didn’t seed Graeme IT IS FLAWED.  End of story.  And needs to be fixed.

There are many other similar arguments that could be made around well performed riders from this season that didn’t get seeded.  Who cares?  Well I think some of the riders probably do.  The concerned cycling parent’s email to CA suggests that it’s a slap in the face to the kids who have worked hard all season for zero recognition.

He also suggests that by getting the seeding wrong it opens the result up more to the vagaries of the weather.  The example he uses is Braden O’Shea (SA) – who should have been seeded in the top-five in the JM17’s given his results this year.  Now Braden starts over an hour before the top-seeds in his ITT.  What if the wind is blowing it’s guts out when he starts and then dies to a whisper an hour later?  Looking at the timing, it’s probably more likely to go the other way, where Braden gets the better conditions than the later starters.  Neither outcome is fair and with better seeding could have been avoided.

CA argues it doesn’t have the resources to go through all the results and rank riders.  Without an ongoing national ranking system, as used in so many other countries is one solution, it would take all of a day to look at the results of all the state champs, Buffalo and maybe the leading junior tour in each state to work out who-who in the zoo.

Easier still, ask the Team Managers to seed their best four riders, then draw the state starting order out of a hat and presto, you wouldn’t get it as wrong as it currently is, at least arguably the top 24 riders would be the last 24 to start.

Will the best rider win regardless?  Probably and hopefully!

And does it all really matter?  Probably not, but if it can be improved, why don’t we improve it?

Wishing you all a safe trip to Shepp, good health to the riders and no crashes for the whole weekend.


State teams are selected…  Entries are closed…  Tapers have begun…

There are over 90 entries in the JM17 category and over 50 in the JM15.  Add in over 55 young ladies in the 15 and 17 categories and it’s shaping as a big junior road nats.

First up Friday is the ITT.  A rolling dead out-and-back course that is likely to have a nasty cross wind – probably slightly helping one-way and hurting the other.  Pacing is pretty important with a lot of the riders coming back in after the Shepparton Junior Tour, on the same course, reporting blowing up half-way home.  The under-15’s have 10km, while the under-17’s must suffer for 15kms.

It looks like there are three standouts in the JM17’s with SA’s Liam Nolan, Vicrtoria’s Godfrey Slattery and WA’s Craig Wiggins looking strongest.  Nolan and Slattery have had a ding-dong battle this year, each beating the other in the lead-up.  It was Nolan who took the honours at the Shepparton Junior Tour, but only by a handful of seconds.  While Wiggins, hidden away in the west, has outstanding performances in past Nationals including being the best placed first-year last year and beating all-comers to win the under-15 crown the year before in Wagga.  Other notables likely to be in the mix include Mitch Wright, Riley Hart, Sebastian Berwick, Braden O’Shea, Cooper Sayers and Stephen Cuff.

In the under-17 women, big favourites for the ITT include WA’s Jade Haines, NSW’s Natasha MullanyEmily Watts and Chloe Heffernan along with Queensland’s Alexandra Martin-Wallace.  Throw in SA’s Maeve Moroney-Plouffe, Victorian’s Georgia O’Rourke and Sarah Gigante and Tassie’s Morgan Gillon and we’re set for a right old fight.

Favourites in the under-15 men include Shepperton JT winner and Track Champion-of-Champions, Graeme Frisle (VIC) along with NSW’s Will McClennon (who won his State title by 45-seconds over Luke Ensor).  Throw in James Moriarty (QLD) who won the hotly contested Canberra JT along with Tasmanian Eddie Calvert and WA’s Sebastian Barrat and it’s probably the hardest age-category to pick the podium.

In the under-15 girls all eyes will be on SA’s Olivia Wheeler, a dominant winner in the ITT at the Shepp JT. Then look to Laura Berwick (ex-QLD now NSW), Amelia Miles (ACT), Chloe Hollingsworth (NSW) while the Bradbury sisters, Neve and Isla will fly the local hopes.

Day two sees the road races; interestingly run in the anti-clockwise direction.  When run this way as a stage in past Shepp JT’s we’ve always seen a much reduced group finish compared to when the loop is run in a clockwise direction (as it was at this year’s Shepp JT).  It seems to be a mix of the longer uphill drag and the wind.  Let’s hope that’s the case as I don’t think many cycling parents would be looking forward to big bunch sprint finishes!

Favourites are probably the same as the above listed riders.  Maybe throw in some good bunch races (those able to hold position) and fast finishers.  It’ll be interesting to see how the the state team riders cope with riding as a team.

It’s probably worth looking at which teams are strong enough to actually benefit from racing as a team.  In the JM17’s it’s SA, Victoria and perhaps NSW.  If we see a strong rider from each of these teams in a break it may well be a good break to be in.  If these three teams aren’t chasing then who will?

In the JW17’s NSW looks the strongest team although Haines is definitely the strongest individual rider.  It is likely this will be more a race of attrition with the strongest girls contesting the finish. Keep an eye on Laura Jones (NSW) who has made a habit of winning road races this season.

In the JM15’s it’s a much more even contest.  Also their smaller gears will make it hard for anyone of any significance to get away.  The same can be said of the JW15’s, which it likely to again come down to a sprint from a small bunch.

The criterium is an interesting one.  After last year’s super smooth flowing course in Toowoomba, which saw crashes aplenty, this course is hopefully slightly more selective.  Being bumpier and narrower in places we won’t see riders six-wide like they were at Toowoomba, and the little pinch of a hill every lap will eventually have an effect on those just hanging on.

The 'little pinch' on the back straight of the DECA crit course. Not much to look at, but the legs will start hurting if the pressure comes on.

The ‘little pinch’ on the back straight of the DECA crit course. Not much to look at, but the legs will start hurting if the pressure comes on.

I think it’s a good move to reduce the number of finalists in the junior men’s categories – 36 for both, down from 50 in Toowoomba!  With three heats for the JM17’s that’s just the top 12 getting through (while the top 18 get through from the JM15’s two heats).

Let’s hope there is a lot less carnage than last year where bodies and bikes were both broken across seven crashes in the criteriums.  Good news is it’s logistically a very good place for a crit with lots of bitumen to set up your marquees etc.

DECA is blessed with good set-up and viewing options. Bring some shelter though if it's sunny… or rainy!

DECA is blessed with good set-up and viewing options. Bring some shelter though if it’s sunny… or rainy!

Well, that’s about it.  Kids: eat well, sleep well and make sure your bikes are all in tip-top shape; parents… do the same and remember to remind the kids it’s not about the results – there can only be one winner in each race – it’s about how they perform against their own goals going in.  Safe travels and see you all in Shepparton.


PS> Long range weather forecasts look good – although this Victoria!  Only downside is not much wind being forecast at this stage.

After my call for contributions a month or so back I had a cycling parent send me a blog post about Junior Worlds – more from the perspective of those kids that don’t go and what the options are for them.  Some interesting thoughts, feel free to add yours in comments section.

Before I post it though, CyclingDad wishes all the kids competing in the Junior Track Worlds which start overnight (Aussie time) in Kazakstan.  Australia has a long tradition of exceeding a these championships and the team we sent will no doubt do our country and themselves proud.  It is a big commitment to go, both financially and from a schooling/time management point-of-view… wishing them good health and good legs for the days ahead.

It must feel pretty special to pull on the green and gold skinsuit… good luck to the team representing Australia over in Astana, Kazakstan at the Junior World Track Championships.

It must feel pretty special to pull on the green and gold skinsuit… good luck to the team representing Australia over in Astana, Kazakstan at the Junior World Track Championships.  Thanks to CA for the image.

If you’re interested in following our junior team here’s a link to the results.

Thanks to the cycling parent who sent this quite topical blog piece in:

On the eve of the Junior World Track Championships kicking off in Kazakhstan, it seems like a good time to look at the event and what it does or doesn’t mean to our young riders.

This is only my opinion but I believe one that is shared by many, and an issue that could be playing a factor in the future of track cycling in Australia. We need to find a way to keep our young riders in the sport of track cycling and not make them feel that it is the end of the road if they are not selected for Junior Worlds.

I am going to use the British junior team as an example here as this is the only country of which I have knowledge on how their system works. And before I start, yes I am aware that population and our location plays a key factor, however there is room for improvement.

From the moment my teenager started racing at the age of 14, we have been surrounded by ambitious riders desperate to make selection for Junior Worlds when they reach U19. This is a major focus event, but for many it is not an option for varying reasons; whether it be ability or in fact even a financial issue. For those that want to go, and get selected, then it is fantastic but for those that don’t go there are often reasons why not, and its not necessarily their ability or lack thereof. Some riders have different goals which include longer-term goals rather than short-term results. I applaud these riders that are mature enough to look at the bigger picture and plan for a lengthy future on the bike.

For these riders, there are other pathways. For the females in particular I urge you to read a recent article by Chloe Hosking on her own particular pathway (road) which was very much an alternative one, she is one very determined and inspirational female rider.

In recent years we have seen much success by our young Australian riders at Junior Worlds but we have also seen the negative fallout in riders giving up the sport upon their return or soon after (CD: I did a story on this a year or so ago which received some outstanding comments and is worth a read) . At the same time we see riders that didn’t get selected also give up as they see no pathway ahead due to their non-selection. Wrong… there is always a pathway, you just have to find it.  Road or track, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Here’s an interesting fact, the British have not sent a team to Junior Track Worlds for the last two years. Why? You may ask, not because of lack of funds and certainly not due to lack of talent. The simple answer is (and I have this from a British team member) the emphasis of the British is on developing Britain’s young riders for future long-term success.  In other words they do not place as much emphasis on Junior Worlds as we do here in Australia.  I am guessing that that here it is in part due to the structure of funding (maybe this needs to be reviewed).  My teenage rider is fortunate enough to have dual citizenship so gets the opportunity to ride at the British Nationals on both the road and track and has already done so in 2013.

I also think that parents can play a role in the future of their teenager’s cycling ambitions, let them find their own pathways without pressure, but be there to support them when and if they need it.

In summary, if you, the rider, has the drive and ambition but don’t get the opportunities via the more popular and obvious avenues available on the track and the road, find your own pathway!  There’s one out there for each and everyone of you, you just have to find it.  And when you find that pathway, enjoy the journey.

Happy Riding!!

Thanks again cycling parent, you make some good points.  At the end of the day there only 15 riders chosen to represent their country at Junior World’s each year… that leaves a lot that aren’t selected.  Take a look at the current list of Australian pros riding at the pinnacle of the sport at the moment (Pro-Conti, World Tour and Women’s Tour) and less than a fifth represented Australia at Junior Track Worlds… they seem to have found a suitable alternate pathway to the top.

Take a look too at the seven under-23 riders riding for Australia’s Jayco AIS Academy at the moment and only two of the seven raced Junior Track Worlds… so five of those riders also seem to have found a way to keep their dream well and truly alive.  The same can be said for the women’s High5 Development Team with only two of the nine riders having competed at Junior Track Worlds.

Only a week left to enter what’s shaping as a fine climax to the junior tour road season.  The Centrals Junior Tour is one of CyclingDad’s favourites and is a perfect lead-in event to Junior Nationals.  It’s also one of the few events where the parcours suits all styles of riders with stages for sprinters, climbers, time trialers and rulers.  It’s one of the safest and best organised junior tours in the country to boot!

With over 50 riders already committed, including over 20 junior women, the tour looks set to provide a field befitting it’s grand history.  There are some local hitters in the field across most age-categories, so interstate visitors will be in for a challenging tour.  There are already a dozen riders coming from Victoria with entries from NSW and the NT also adding to the depth.

What'd I tell you about the coloured helmet covers... I think it looks cool!?!

Last year the tour moved it’s base to The Company Store in Angaston – so mum and dad can enjoy fine food and wine while the kids race!  It’s a perfect set up.

So get on it kids… tell mum and dad they’re spending a weekend in the Barossa Valley… how could they refuse?  Plus, as an added bonus, you get to wear one of the uniquely SA coloured helmet covers – something not to be missed!

Interstaters can also contact John Kelly if they want to see if they might be able to snare billeted accommodation.

You’ll find a link to enter the tour here; and all the info, including course maps, right here.