Archive for February, 2014

At the recent launch of the Jayco-AIS U23 World Tour Academy Team, Kevin Tabotta, CA National Performance Director, made it clear its a privilege to be selected onto the roster.  There are currently 17 active World Tour riders who came through this pathway including the likes of Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews, Matthew Goss, Rohan Dennis, Cameron Meyer, Jack Bobridge, Luke Durbridge and Simon Clarke.

This is the second year of change to the Academy, which used to ride as a Continental team, with the same riders contracted to the team for the whole year.  It now relies on invites as a National Team and offers more riders the chance of an extended stay in Europe as part of the team.

Looking at the names that make up the 2014 roster we also see change.  In the past, it was made up junior blue-bloods, identified early and rewarded with this easier pathway to success (refer to most of the names above).  Not that success in this sport comes easily – we all know it takes lots of hard work and dedication.  But the nine young men selected for 2014 are a mix of the usual blue-bloods who have always been at the pointy-end throughout their junior years… and a number of riders newer to the sport or who didn’t impress until getting into under-19s.

The 2014 podium from the under-23 road champs - Power (2nd), Ewan (1st) and Brad Lindfield (3rd)… all got a start in the Jayco-AIS U23 World Tour Academy Team.

The 2014 podium from the under-23 road champs – Power (2nd), Ewan (1st) and Brad Lindfield (3rd)… all got a start in the Jayco-AIS U23 World Tour Academy Team.

Riders like Alex Clements and Campbell Flakemore.  Both having come to the sport in the past four or five years and neither of you ride track endurance, now find themselves on this pathway after promising results at national under-19/23 level and consistent performances in NRS races.  A rider like Robert Power (great name for a cyclist) is a story of perseverance and proof that just because you’re not winning races as an under-17, doesn’t mean you can’t make it.

Power didn’t finish top-10 in any event at the Junior Road Nationals in either of his under-17 years; and only top-20 in one event (as a top-age in the ITT).  Yet last year, as a top-age under-19, Power started an amazing run of results, firstly at the Oceania Junior Champs with 5th in the ITT and 3rd in the Road Race. This saw him secure a position on the National Junior High Performance Program – a program offering under-19 riders a period of racing in Europe, staying at the CA facility in Varese, Italy leading into the Junior Road World Championships.

Power scored two good wins and four podiums in the lead-up junior races to the World Champs and arguably started as one of the favourites for this event along with team mate Caleb Ewan.

Any how, the moral of this blog post is that it doesn’t matter if you’re winning as an under-15 or under-17… if you have the dedication and commitment and are prepared to put in the work, there is a future for you in the sport and now there’s also a pathway that offers opportunities to you, even if you develop later than most.  And that can only be a good thing.

Congratulations to all riders selected for the Jayco-AIS U23 World Tour Academy Team:

Firstly, a big congratulations to those selected to represent their States at the upcoming Junior Track Nationals in Sydney later this month.

For those not selected thoughts already start to move to the road.  There is still a handful of track events to come, including the famous (Junior) Austral Wheelrace in Melbourne and the Wagga Wagga Golden Wheel, but for mine, track season feels like it starts earlier and finishes after the end of State Championships for those not making the state team.

These late season track events do offer terrific opportunity for those newer to the sport and emerging in the sport to pick up additional experience and some prize money as most of those riders selected for the State teams tend to avoid these events fearing injury or a crash leading into their season goal.

One thing that I really think is important, especially for those that have been in the sport for a few years and who put in a decent amount of training, is to take a complete break off the bike between the seasons.  At least two-weeks, even more if its possible.

We saw a number of leading junior riders step straight from road season into track season last year without taking a break… they were flying early, but by early-January had plateaued and in some cases were downright creeping just when they wanted to be going their best.  I think it’s so important to take time off the bike, not just physically to allow young bodies to grow, but mentally as well.

As the title of this blog hints at, there are some significant changes on the Junior Winter Road Calendar.  Again, there are conflicting events between neighbouring states, maybe this is unavoidable?  Maybe the States just need to speak to each other?

The good news is the first National Championship of the year has been pushed back a week or so to allow time for those doing the track champs to find their road legs.  The Australian Mountain Climbing Championships will be held up Mt Buffalo on the first weekend in April (5th and 6th), more than a month after track nations – so two weeks for a break, then quickly find your climbing legs!

Some of the medallists from the 2013 Alpe D'Buffalo - as it's affectionately known.

Some of the medallists from the 2013 Alpe D’Buffalo – as it’s affectionately known.

The Junior Tours (JTs) then kick off for the SE States* in Adelaide the week after with the Santos JT on April 12 and 13.  There’s a new base for this year but much the same challenging and picturesque courses.  For me this JT is a must do, especially for bottom-aged riders as it welcomes them to the new age category with a bang!

*There is a JT in Ipswich as early as 8th March for those up north.

A list of other Junior Tours (as best as I can work out using the new CA and State websites) follows:

  • 12-13 April – Santos JT (SA) – A great event!
  • 20 April – Goldstars Junior Carnival (QLD)
  • 26-27 April – Wagga Wagga JT (NSW) / Leongatha Junior Experience (VIC)
  • 2-3 May – Ararat
  • 10-11 May – Canberra JT  (ACT) Usually first weekend in July… might not be 0-degrees in May!
  • 24-25 May – Goulburn JT (NSW)
  • 7-8 June – Mersey Valley Devonport JT (TAS)
  • 7 June – Balmoral Junior Tour (QLD)
  • 14-15 June – Shepparton JT (VIC)
  • 12-13 July – Eildon JT (VIC)
  • 9-10 Aug – Toowoomba JT (QLD) Likely to be on the National course so expect this to be well supported.
  • 12-14 September – National Junior Road Champs (QLD)

I haven’t included anything in WA as they still have a 2013 events calendar on their website, nor other JT’s in SA or TAS, and I’ve probably left others too – please feel free to add in other events in the comments section.