Team’s racing at Junior Tours

Posted: May 13, 2014 in Opinion, Racing
Tags: , ,

The Canberra Junior Tour was on on the the weekend just gone.  Brought forward this year from the usual chilly July date, riders were greeted with perfect weather, with Sunday being a stand-out after the low cloud burnt off.

Organisers had to work around road-works in the precinct, meaning the start and finish for the ITT and road races was off-site and race distances were shortened.  This also provided a bit of a headache for the first road race with race scheduling affected and groups passing each other towards the end of races.  This didn’t seem to repeat itself to any extent for the second road stage and the crits went off like clockwork on the best criterium facility in the country.

The Stromlo Forest Park criterium track offers great viewing and protection from the elements.

The Stromlo Forest Park crit track offers great viewing and protection from the elements. Photo credit Michael Langdon.

The tour featured a strong team from New Zealand in the under-17 categories.  The Kiwis were coming off their national titles the previous weekend, so were right on the top of their form.  They hit the locals hard, who are still very much building their form towards August/September, securing four out of the top five positions in the opening stage TT in the men and three of the top six in the women.  With a team of seven men and six women, the Kiwis were always going to make it hard for the locals in the remaining three stages.

And so it transpired with the Kiwis patrolling the front of the peloton en masse, not letting anything get away despite repeated attempts.  The courses are such that natural selection thinned the field to an elite front group in both road stages in both the men and women, and despite their numerical advantage the Kiwis didn’t have it all their own way in the bunch kicks with locals more than holding their own… but they certainly did it tough, especially in the men with six Kiwis making the final selection of 11 riders on the tough second road stage.

The Kiwis driving on the front of the stage four crit in the JM17s.

The Kiwis driving on the front of the stage four crit in the JM17s.  Photo credit Michael Langdon.

I guess my question is, is this good for junior racing or is it unfair in what is meant to be an individual tour?  Of course the Kiwis aren’t the only ‘team’ to effect the outcome of the Canberra Junior Tour, with The Racing Kangaroos entering a strong team a few years back and dominating the results.  In the rules its called ‘collusion’ and can be penalised with disqualification, but I didn’t hear any parents complaining about the Kiwis in Canberra.

Collusion, in one form or another, actually comes into play in a lot of junior races.  Whether it be riders competing for the same sponsor, for the same club, or riders who are just friends; we see decisions not the chase, to block, or to actively disrupt a chase happen all the time.  It’s just a part of racing and its probably good the kids experience it and learn how to deal with it at junior level than it be a surprise when the reach higher levels of racing.

In fact, it is taught and used as a strategy each year at road nationals where state teams are riding for protected riders and with clear race plans.

I’ve been around the junior tour scene for a while now and to be honest, I think the Kiwis added a dynamic to the racing that made it different for the local riders.  Different in a good way.  At the end of the day, the final results very much related back to the ITT, with the top five in both made up of the same riders (although with slight changes in order).  So you can say, the strongest riders still finished on top… therefore teams racing had minimal impact on the overall results.

Four out of the top five on GC… what do you call a podium stacked with Kiwis?

Four out of the top five in the JM17 GC… what do you call a podium stacked with Kiwis?  Photo credit Michael Langdon.

I guess what it did do was limit the opportunity for breaks to go.  Although one did go in the second JM17 road race and stayed away for around 10kms only to be brought back on the big hill after the turnaround.  I don’t think the break got any more than maybe 20-seconds with the stronger local riders controlling it as their was a Kiwi in it.  Again… a good experience for all involved.

I wouldn’t like to see it at every tour, but I’d equally like to encourage the Kiwis to make the trip to Canberra each year to give the locals some new riders to race.

The under-15s were dominated by two very strong riders: Mitchell Wright in the boys and Claire Winterbourne in the girls – not sure what their competitors are going to do to be more competitive at Nationals, although I guess it is still only May.

The under-13 categories saw standout performances from two Queenslanders in Laura Berwick (sister of Sebastian) and Frank Momo; while in the under-11’s Ryan Britten and Lucinda Stewart add their names to an already impressive honour roll.

Full results can be found via links on the tour site as can some great photos.

  1. Pete says:

    From Melbourne would you drive or fly up?

    Intersting to see J9 & J11 because apparently in Victoria “peripheral vision and gap judgement is not developed sufficiently in riders under 11 to race on open roads with cars “

  2. cycdad says:

    Hey Pete

    Thanks for your comment. It’s about six-and-a-half-hours from Melbourne. It’s an easy drive, but heading home Sunday night is not much fun! If you can afford it, fly, if you don’t mind the driving, its probably the cheaper option.

    In terms of under-9/11 racing; NSW probably has the biggest offering in these categories – probably driven by demand as much as anything. NSW has a very large Masters membership with these junior categories growing as a direct result of this.

    Canberra do it very well with the young ones, with roads closed to all but a small amount of local traffic + the crit track is safe and not too technical.

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