Archive for September, 2013

Now in its third year, the National Junior Track Series (NJTS) looks set to again step up in professionalism.  This ground-breaking series offers under-15 and under-17 riders the chance to compete against each other over four rounds in four months.  In the past, these riders only ever met at the National Championships.  With the winners of the under-17 categories from year-one already gold medallists at the most recent Junior Worlds (Jack Edwards and Lauren Perry), the series provides the perfect launchpad/talent ID for juniors.

Lauren Perry - winner of the NJTS in 11/12 takes gold in the IP at the recent Junior Worlds.

Lauren Perry – winner of the NJTS in 11/12 takes gold in the IP at the recent Junior Worlds.

  • The schedule continues to offer a good balance of sprint and enduro – although probably still slightly weighted to the advantage of the sprinter.  Having said that, the endurance races – the elimination and the points races – are true endurance races with specialist sprinters unlikely to be able to make it to the finish.
  • Allocation of points for the first-four place-getters in A-finals remain the same as last year – with 6, 4, 3, 2 points on offer.  What has changed is that riders making A-finals will earn an additional point.  This will have the effect of offering emerging riders the opportunity to put a gap between them and all the other riders who get a single point for competing.  Up until this year, there were maybe 8-12 riders scoring points, then a traffic jam of riders who all scored one-point per event for competing with no way of differentiating those that made A-finals and those that didn’t.
  • All four events will be held over two-days… last year the first three rounds were all double-dayers, with the final two being single-day events.  So this year, we lose an event, but don’t lose any competition days.  The double-day events are pretty full-on, especially if you’re making finals. You could have up to nine or 10 rides per day if you race all events and make all the finals!  That is harder work than any track event the kids are ever likely to race so it is a bit of a smashfest.  If you’re not making finals, you should get at least four hard rides per day.

The series is subsidised by Cycling Australia with teams receiving between $2000 and $6500 if they attend all four rounds to assist with travel and accommodation.  If teams can secure some additional sponsorship and book airfares and accommodation well ahead a rider can do every round for not much more than $1000 each.

Quality fields mean close racing at the NJTS.

Quality fields mean close racing at the NJTS.

While there is no prize money on offer, there is very definitely bragging rights plus the honour in representing your club or region.  Our club’s experience has seen riders quite new to the sport participate at the event and move ahead in leaps and bounds.  Our club has gone from struggling to fill one team for all rounds to being over-subscribed this year.  I believe this has been due to the kids involved having such a great ‘team’ experience and sharing this with others when they got back.

Sydney will see 165 starters making for two big days of racing.

Sydney will see 165 starters making for two big days of racing.

Some advice for ensuring a smooth experience:

  • Fill the managers role with active and capable person with the time to deliver a quality outcome.
  • Ensure that those who fill the other team support roles understand their roles and responsibilities and that they’re not just there to be parents to their kids.
  • Teach the kids to pack and unpack and build their bikes prior to the first trip – this is all part of the learning.
  • Take enough good food for the travel as airports and road houses generally only offer fast food.
  • If one of your kids isn’t getting enough rides let the event director know rather than bitching about it – in my experience the organises will do everything they can to give kids more rides.
  • Be organised on the day – the Team Manager needs help to round-up the kids and ensure they’re ready for their next race.
  • If one of your kids is sick – tell them not to do the event.  These are very intense race days and not suited to unwell riders.
  • Set realistic goals… finishing top-10, making a final, not getting dropped.  The kids racing this are the best kids in the country so if you’re kids aren’t, they will likely not get too many results.  Make it about small gains race-to-race, event-to-event.

Rigtho, the NJTS website is here and to give you an idea about what to expect, here’s a photobook ‘SweatnGears’ put together from last year’s Sydney event.

Things kick off in Sydney in just a couple of weeks.  Unfortunately entries have closed – due to the demand (165 starters!) – so keep your eyes out for entries to the Melbourne (November), Launceston (December) and Adelaide (January) rounds.

Carelessness not an excuse when it comes to anti-doping; as Stefano Agostini recently discovered.

It’s all well and good thinking you’re only junior riders and you won’t be tested… but I can tell you there were ASADA testers at the Perth round of the NJTS last year and also at track nationals.  Up until now, only under-17 riders have been tested, but that doesn’t mean riders even younger won’t be tested in the future.

Plus its good to get into a habit now of ensuring you’re well informed and understand what you’re putting into and onto your body.  As can be seen in Agostini’s case, its also important that parents of junior athletes are well informed of what they can and can’t give to their kids.

ASADA anti-doping-kit

ASADA has some resources that I would encourage all young riders and their parents to check out.  They’re quite clunky and sit on a platform that is prone to crashing (I find embarrassing that our national anti-doping agency’s website is so antiquated) but they do get the message across.  They can be found via this page.  You need to create an account and can then do the modules.

It would be any athletes worst nightmare to test positive for something they had no idea was banned.  Ignorance isn’t an excuse so get to know whats-what.

 

 

Junior Road Nationals

Posted: September 9, 2013 in Tips & Hints

I had the privilege of travelling to Wagga Wagga for the junior road nationals last weekend.  It is the culmination of the junior road season for under-15 and under-17 riders (thank goodness I hear most parents say!).  Unlike the junior track nationals it is open to individuals as well as state team selected riders.  I think this is a great outcome as it allows more kids to participate and prove themselves if injury, sickness or lack of form hurt their chances of selection for their state team or it just them a chance to mix it with the top and see where they’re at.  I actually think they should open up the track nationals to individual riders who might qualify via the NJTS or similar (but that’s for another post).

It’s definitely an honour to be selected for your state, no matter how you perform at the titles. The experience of travelling and staying as a team; of eating together; of being coached by someone different and of riding as a team is a special experience.  Sure, it takes the riders out of their comfort zone and away from their usual routine of travelling with their parents who often ensure they’re well fed and get enough sleep, but those parents won’t be there if they make a national team or travel to Europe to race in the future, so its great practise for what might lay ahead.  Some riders thrive in this setting, others find it more of a struggle but I’m certain they’re better off for the experience.

There was a lot of discussion around the seedings for the Time Trial from some parents and from some riders on social media.  Not sure who at CA seeds them or how they’re seeded – seems to be the top 10, then alphabetically – but most commentary suggested a more accurate job could be done with very little research (from junior tour results and the like).  Any way, seeding shouldn’t have a huge baring in the results of the ITT (unless you should have been seeded No.1 and you end up 2 with your biggest rival having the benefit of chasing you, instead of the other way around).

The event seemed to run smoothly: certainly the amazing weather helped there!  The TT course was pretty much flat and on slowish country roads – it was a real ‘strong mans’ course.  No real upsets but the juniors from WA dominated winning three of the four races!  Not sure what they put in the water over there, but whatever it is, those in the eastern states would like some!

While there were some bumps on the road race courses the general consensus was that most them would stay, or comeback, together.  The general was right in some instances and completely wrong in others.  Again the West Aussies won two out or four with the most impressive performance that of JM15 ITT winner Craig Wiggins (not sure if he’s a relative?) and the runner-up Sebastian Berwick who was the rider who realised the danger and bridged across.  Wiggins and Berwick powered to the line winning by some 16-seconds from a still startled bunch.

The crits proved super-fast and full of action with plenty of crashes doing damage and proving again you needed to be in the front few to avoid the possibility of being held up.  Some great winners including more first-years in Alana Field in the JW15 and wunderkind, Cameron Scott, in the JM17s with a blistering finish from the bunch as it swept up a well-timed attack by Darcy Pirotta just 30m before the line.

All in all a terrific event.  CA should be praised for the way it was run.  That said, a rolling road closure would be better for the road races, especially on roads that narrow.  From where I caught the races, the peloton was pretty much using all the road all the time – even though it wasn’t a closed road!

Good-bye road… bring on a short break and then track.

Some great photos and videos of the racing can be found on the following links:

The Small Chainring – Facebook Page (SA focus)

SA Junior Cycling Pics – Facebook Page (mainly SA)

Pierre Pino – Flickr feed (mainly Vics)

Results can be found here.

Feel free to add other links in the comments.