Archive for April, 2013

Just perusing the entries for the upcoming Wagga Wagga Junior Tour and I’m amazed at the number.  209 entries so far!  Without doing the research, I’m betting that is the biggest junior tour field we have had anywhere in this country possibly ever!  As an example, there were some 159 entries at last year’s Canberra Junior Tour – the JT many consider to be the strongest in the country.

When analysing the entries one of the terrific things is the spread: there are 19 under-9s – unheard of!  There are 31, yes 31 under-11s!!  This rise in the younger categories seems to be linked to the growth in Masters cycling… where if mum or dad is riding, it inspires the kids / or the parents encourage the kids.  Maybe this is also the first wave of the ‘Cadel Effect’?  Whatever the reason, what a great outcome.

Is this the best event for the younger categories?  With almost 50 under-9 and under-11s I think so!

Is this the best event for the younger categories? With 50 under-9 and under-11s I think so!

The boys and girls under-13 categories sees 17 and 11 riders respectively.  Again terrific numbers for this category and what we’ll find is that this level of competition keeps it interesting for the young riders who all to frequently find themselves racing the same half-a-dozen riders over-and-over again.

I can understand the large numbers in the under-15 (JM15 = 32 / JW15 = 11) and under-17 (JM17 = 62 / JW17 = 25) categories with Wagga hosting the Junior National Road Champs later in the year and the third stage of the junior tour is to be held over the nationals course.  But still, we see kids coming over from WA, Tassie, QLD as well as those making the drive from SA, Victoria, NSW and the ACT.  Yep, seven states will be represented in Wagga making for an almost Nationals strength field in the under-15 and under-17 categories.

In my experience it is generally a pretty well run tour.  Wagga Wagga CC provides a good number of volunteers and officials to ensure smooth sailing.  There is a top notch canteen with a wide variety of food on offer.  Cars have access to a large paddock opposite the start/finish line where they can set up, but be sure to bring chairs, rugs and cover if its sunny.

Welcome to Wantabadgery - big fields guaranteed!

Welcome to Wantabadgery – big fields guaranteed!

The best place to stay is Junee, a lovely old railway town about 15-minutes from Wantabadgery.  Be sure to allow some time to visit the local chocolate factory… delicious!  There is also some great riding for parents if they manage to bring their bikes.

I’m not sure about the courses.  From memory, the TT is pretty flat out-and-back.  I don’t think there have been course maps or profiles ever produced. This will obviously be rectified in time for the Nationals, but its a shame there is nothing available now.  I think the older grades do have some bumps in their courses… not big hills, but with aggression, enough to make a selection.

The other important consideration for the organisers, with this number of entries, is to get the results right.  I remember leaving on the Saturday night in the past and still not knowing the GC standings.  Hopefully, with the additional revenue this many entrants provides (209 =  over $4000) the organisers might look to bring in electronic timing.  Not that this is full proof, but with an experienced operator, it should offer fast and accurate results.

Main road Wantabadgery - see the tent city in the background on the paddock on the side.

Main road Wantabadgery – see the tent city in the background on the paddock on the side.

While on the same course as Nationals, I doubt the results will necessarily be the same.  Many leading riders who came off track nationals have had a break so are really only getting back into the swing of things.  It’ll be interesting to see who is on form and who is building.  In my experience, it is hard to hold form all season long and if you include Nationals, it is quite a long season.

Good luck to all competing, and here’s hoping the numbers of Wagga are replicated at many other junior tours throughout the season.

supplement

Cycling Australia (CA) re-released their most up-to-date supplements policy (revised November 2012) last month on social media.  I did read it when it came out, but thought I’d review it after the feedback and discussion created by an earlier post on energy drinks.  The document seems to be pretty clear in what it is recommending for juniors, as well as what it is discouraging.

Cycling Australia encourages junior cyclists to pursue excellence in their sport through a combination of structured training programs, healthy and performance-focussed diet and a balanced lifestyle. Cycling Australia (CA) strongly discourages the use of sports performance supplements that have NO nutritional or medical benefit. (eg. caffeine, creatine, pseudoephedrine, carnitine).

With reference to the AIS Supplement Group Classification at: http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/supplements/classification_test

Cycling Australia strongly discourages the use of all Group B, C, and D supplements for all junior athletes and considers that developing junior athletes have more important priorities and more effective methods for improving their ability to perform at the highest level – specifically: physical conditioning through structured training programs, health-promoting and performance-focussed nutritional practices, natural recovery techniques such as stretching, racing tactics and strategies, technique development etc.

CA does list the supplements it considers safe for junior athletes – a list it refers to as Group A supplements, which includes:

  • Sports drink
  • Electrolyte replacement supplements
  • Liquid meal supplements
  • Whey protein supplements
  • Sports bars
  • Sports gels (non-caffeinated)
  • Sports confectionery (non-caffeinated)
  • Probiotics

They also have an addendum to this list with more inclusions in Group A considered safe with medical supervision.  They are:

  • Multivitamins
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Sick pack (not sure what this is? Any body?)

On top of this, there are some Group A supplement that juniors are strongly discouraged from using.  These include:

  • Creatine
  • Bicarbonate
  • Caffeine
  • Beetroot Juice
  • B-alanine

Interestingly clicking through to the AIS categorisation of these supplements and it appears that Beetroot Juice and B-alanine are actually classified as Group B supplements NOT Group A.  This leads to confusion and needs to be fixed to provide a consistent message.  And speaking of a consistent message, CA released a study espousing the benefits of Beetroot Juice in 2011 and promoted it as part of its e-news.  It was undertaken by Peter Reaburn and can be found here.

Beetroot Juice - OK for Cav, strongly discouraged for juniors.

Beetroot Juice – OK for Cav, strongly discouraged for juniors.

Overall I think its a pretty clear policy. I’m concerned that it can’t be policed nor can action be taken against those juniors who chose not to heed CA’s strong discouragement.

I find the Beetroot Juice issue particularly confusing, especially given recent media around the product.  Even the most recent edition of Matt Keenan’s Bike Lane discusses Beetroot Juice and reveals that no lesser riders as Mark Cavendish and Heinrich Haussler use it and they believe that so does most of the peloton.  If juniors see their heroes using this, they immediately ask why they can’t use it.  It’s a natural vegetable juice after all!  I wonder is the fear that if their use of supplements to try and enhance their performance starts with Beetroot Juice, where will it end.

The other issue I find troubling is that CA doesn’t recognise the terrible effect most sports drinks have on the teeth.  There is a lot of research about this and I think the AIS will find itself sued pretty soon from athletes whose teeth have rotted due to the amount of sports drinks they’ve been fed.  I know one sports drink, Sukkie, has been specially formulated to be kind to the teeth.  I reckon its worth checking this out, especially for juniors.

Don't be like this guy... drink sports drinks that don't rot your teeth.

Don’t be like this guy… drink sports drinks that don’t rot your teeth.

We’re now well and truly into road season… I hope a few of you have registered to ride the Santos Junior Tour in Adelaide or the Wagga Wagga Junior Tour, which I’m told will use much of this year’s Nationals course.  Sorry I’ve been a little quiet… been pretty busy in the real job!  Will try and get a few more posts out in the coming week or two.