Archive for August, 2014

It’s that time of the year where states are announcing their junior road teams for the upcoming Junior Road Nationals to be held in Toowoomba.  For some, this is a nervous time full of anxiety and dread; for others, a time of celebration.  By now, I think all states have named their teams except for maybe SA and the ACT.  For selectors in some states, it was a very simple decision with stand-out competitors across multiple age categories; in other states, there was so much depth that some very, very good bike riders have missed out on selection.

Thankfully, non-selection in the state team on the road doesn’t mean you can’t just make your own way up to Queensland and race (unlike for junior track nationals).  And in some ways, non-selection isn’t a bad thing; particularly in the road race and crit.  That is, if you were maybe a third or fourth pick on the state team, you’d be expected to ride for your team leader and have to forego your own opportunities in these races.

Firstly, a hardy congratulations to those of you who have made a state team… I’m sure it’s a just reward for a consistent season.  For those that didn’t make the team, especially those who felt they were right on the cusp, don’t get down on yourselves, use the your non-selection as motivation to train even harder and prepare yourself for your best possible performance at the Nationals and beyond.

Junior Road Nationals come at a difficult time… being held off the back of a long winter.  It’s easy to get affected by illness, especially as you up your training to peak at just the right time!  So part of your preparations should be to do everything you can to avoid getting sick: take precautionary vitamins; eat well; get plenty of sleep; drink plenty of water; WASH YOUR HANDS LOTS!!!

The combined ITT podium from 2013 Junior Road Nats held in Wagga Wagga - lots of State kit!

The combined ITT podium from 2013 Junior Road Nats held in Wagga Wagga – six states were represented!

The Course

The course looks like an interesting one this year.  There are some ‘bumps’ in the profile but it doesn’t look like a particularly selective course on paper and will likely end in a series of bunch kicks… the older/stronger/deeper the age-group, the bigger the bunch!  Looking at the Toowoomba JM17 State Champs as a guide, a group of 12 (out of 40) contested the road race finish… this was with very windy conditions and narrow roads that definitely made the course harder than it looked on paper.  The finish is a slight uphill affair on the Glenvale Crit Track so it will likely favour the stronger riders.

And with regard to the crit… the Queensland Crit Champs were equally windy and saw a group of 15 JM17 riders contest a sprint finish.  Now, with all due respect to the Queensland Junior Champs, the Nationals fields will be significantly deeper across all categories so I would imagine quite sizeable bunches fighting for the win… having said that, racing doesn’t take place on paper does it!

So, if you didn’t pick up a State track suit and (usually) uncomfortable kit this year, all is not lost.  Chin up, on that bike and start working to prove those selectors wrong.  Or, if you’re not making the trip to Toowoomba, dust off the track bike and hit the velodrome to get a head start on your competitors for track season.

Tassie held its State Junior Road Championships in May; and its ITT & Crit Championships in July.

South Australia held its State Junior Championships in early-June.

Queensland held its in July and Victoria’s were on the weekend just gone.

WA is holding its Junior Championships this coming weekend and the NSW champs is on in a fortnight at Wagga Wagga (it is open to interstate riders BTW).

Tassie and Queensland have already announced their State Junior Road Teams, while Victoria’s announcement is imminent.

The podium of this year's JM17 Tasmanian ITT Champs…we'll likely see these kids wearing tassie kit in Toowoomba!

The podium of this year’s JM17 Tasmanian ITT Champs…we’ll likely see these kids wearing tassie kit in Toowoomba! Source: Cycling Tasmania Facebook Page.

I’m no coach, but I’ve spoken to a number of coaches and they assure me it is difficult for a junior, or any rider for that matter, to peak twice in a season; once for State’s and then again for Nationals.  Not impossible, but difficult, depending on the timing of both – especially taking into account illness and schooling and family holidays!  What I’d like to propose is this…

A Junior State Championship Weekend identified in the calander – where ALL States hold their Junior Championships on the SAME weekend.  Whether that’s in June, July or August I’m not sure – but I’m sure people with far more knowledge than me could suggest the ideal gap between States and Nationals from a “holding-form” point-of-view.

The other thing this would do is allow us to start to look at a synchronised national junior tour calendar.  That is, there were only three Junior Tours in Victoria this year; NSW had four; QLD three; SA really only one proper tour; Tassie only one; and WA maybe a couple.  So let’s say there were 13 JT’s this season.  There are over 20-weekends from mid-April, yet there were numerous weekends where tours clashed with each other or clashed with a state’s junior championships.  This can be avoided with a little bit of pre-planning and in fact scheduled to make it viable for kids to travel to suitable interstate tours.

Now a lot of States don’t like to have things mandated by Cycling Australia (and probably with good reason in the past) but I’d like to think that if CA put out a well thought through document proposing something similar to the above it would be well received.  That’s not to say events in WA and say, QLD can’t be on the same date – but I would think that particularly events in South-Eastern Australia could be arranged to avoid clashes and allow athletes the chance for more high calibre racing.

* OK, it’s not that Radical I guess.