Cycling… it’s a team sport!

Posted: November 15, 2013 in Racing, Tips & Hints
Tags: , , ,

In just a couple of weeks we see the start of track teams racing around the country with the Victorian Junior Club Teams Championships.  In days gone by this was one of the BIG events on the cycling calendar.  Team representation was hard fought and worn like a badge of honour.  Winning clubs would proudly display their pennants in their clubrooms and have bragging rights for the next 12-months.

Cycling is broadly seen as an individual sport.  Indeed ‘team tactics’ are frowned upon in all but the biggest of races and not allowed at all on the track (where its called collusion and is met with disqualification).  That’s not to say it doesn’t happen; with ‘teams’ representing their state, their bike shop, sponsor or coaching group all ‘riding for each other’ at various races around the place.  But at the Club Teams, riders need to ride as a team.  They train as a team.  They all wear their club kit (no shop kits allowed) and share their club pride.

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The winners of the 2012 JW17 Team Pursuit – Brunswick with Carnegie Teams claiming second and third!

Unfortunately there are very few opportunities for juniors to ride events like Team Sprints and Team Pursuits.  It’s not till they reach under-17 level and only then its the top three or four riders in the state who get to race it at the Nationals, so this is a terrific opportunity for kids to have a crack at these Olympic events.

The Team Sprint is also a hard fought event with often only 100ths of a second separating the winners.

The Team Sprint is also a hard fought event with often only 100ths of a second separating the winners.

Teams are only as strong as their weakest rider, so tactics are a big part of it – especially in the Team Pursuit, where a majority of riders must finish (2 out of 3 for the younger age categories and 3 out of 4 for the under-15s and 17s).  It means stronger riders taking longer turns but also keeping the pace steady enough not to blow up the weaker riders – it really is the epitome of a team event!

As junior ranks continue to grow the competition will be fierce, especially in the older age categories with the blue ribband event arguably the under-17 Team Pursuits.  Competition will be tough between the bigger inner-city clubs of Brunswick, Carnegie and Blackburn while a number of the bigger country clubs also sure to field competitive teams.

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Arguably the blue ribband event of the event is the JM17 Team Pursuit.

A positive change this year is that smaller clubs can form composite teams from riders within their combine.  While they can’t win medals, they can compete and experience this style of team racing.  Combine areas are:

Gippsland: Warragul, Latrobe, Wellington, Leongatha, Bairnsdale
Goldfields: Ballarat, Ararat, Horsham, Stawell-Great Western
Central: Bendigo, Castlemaine, Macedon Ranges, Seymour Broadford
Barwon: Geelong, Colac
South West: Portland, Port Fairy, Warrnambool, Camperdown

North East: Shepparton, Alpine, Albury Woodonga, Lavington, Mansfield, Wangaratta
Metro East: Blackburn, Carnegie, Hawthorn, Casey Cardinia, Chelsea, Mornington, Southern Masters
Metro West: Footscray, Italo-Australia, Melton, Northcote, Preston, Whittlesea, Sunbury
Metro Central: Brunswick, St Kilda, Hawthorn, Maccabi, Melbourne Adventure, Melbourne University, Veneto

Here’s hoping that a lot of the regional clubs take advantage of this change and field some composite teams.

Good luck to all racing the event – it would be great to see some strong club support with banners and barracking from the stands.  Lets try and restore the stature of the Club Teams as a major event on the Summer Calendar.

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