All aboard the Jayco-AIS U23 World Tour Academy Team Pathway

Posted: February 12, 2014 in Opinion, Racing
Tags: , , ,

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:

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