Belgium Bound

Posted: June 23, 2015 in News, Road
Tags: , , , , , ,

Three Aussie juniors are heading off to Belgium for three-weeks early next month.  They are following a well worn path trod by cyclists past and present; famous and not; but all lovers of the sport.

Belgium is cycling’s Mecca… especially the Flanders region.  The boys will be staying in Oudenaarde in the Flemish Ardennes, just 6km from the famed Koppenberg (and nearby to the Kwaremont and Paterberg climbs) and home to the Tour of Flanders museum.  It’s also the turn around point for the ‘canal ride’ or Scheldepeloton – leaving Ghent at 9am each morning (pros hours!) this 50km return ride varies from recovery to all out race depending on the day and pros are often spotted at the front of the bunch.

To say this will be an amazing experience for the boys is probably an understatement… between breathing in all the culture, the boys will also be racing the local kermesses.  There are two under-17, or Nieuwelingen riders heading over and one under-19, or Junior rider.  They are:

Maccie Carter (VIC) – bottom-age under-19. Quality time trial list and strong climber.  Won at Modella on the weekend so looks to be taking some form over. Finished top-10 at the Mersey Valley Junior Tour against the cream of Aussie under-19 talent. Member of the Hawthorn Cycling Club and coached by Kelly Coaching.  Goal: “My expectations are for racing to be much harder, the bunches to be bigger, the cobbles to be really tough and for it to be warmer 🙂  I am also really looking forward to living at Chainstay with the different nationalities and being immersed in the Belgium cycling culture for three weeks.  I know it is going to be really tough racing so I have put a lot of work in over winter and I hope to be able to finish all the races.”

Maccie Carter on his way to victory at Modella last weekend.

Maccie Carter on his way to victory at Modella last weekend.

Riley Hart (VIC) – top-age under-17.  Won three national titles on the track earlier this year and backed it up with another national title in the CA Mountain Climb Championships time trial.  Mixing track and road at the moment but was second overall at the recent Shepparton Junior Tour so building form.  From the Brunswick Cycling Club and now racing on a VIS scholarship.  Coached by Rebecca DiCello.  Goal: “Hoping to find my feet early and then maybe a podium once I get the hang of the style of racing.  Just looking forward to living and breathing cycling for three-weeks – plus the tour is on while we’re there and I’m in the right time zone… although my Flemish isn’t dat goed!”

Hart - centre in VIS colours and black and red helmet - contesting the sprint finish in the road race at the recent Shepparton JT.

Hart – centre in VIS colours and black and red helmet – contesting the sprint finish in the road race at the recent Shepparton JT.

Mitchell Wright (NSW) – While a bottom-age under-17, is more than competitive as recent results demonstrate (including 2nd in GC at the National Mountain Climb Champs).  As a top-age under-15 rider, won Champion-of-Champions at the track nationals and also all three titles at the national road champs.  Racing for the Illawarra Academy of Sport and Illawarra Cycling Club and coached by Ben Kersten.  Goal: “Looking forward to stepping up to this level of racing and seeing where I’m at.  I’d like to show off Australian racing and hope maybe a podium is a possibility.  I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from the big fields, technical and fast kermesses that will hold me in good stead in the future.”

Mitch Wright in NSW colours  on his way to victory in the under-15 national road championships last year in Toowoomba.

Mitch Wright in NSW colours on his way to victory in the under-15 national road championships last year in Toowoomba.

I’ve asked the boys to write regular updates for this blog as well as send through photos and even race footage (they’ll be running GoPros on their bikes during races when they can).  They’re a part of a three-week camp organised by US cycling stalwart, Tim Redus.  Redus has run these camps for the past few years but has been in-and-around the sport for close to four decades.  His business, Vertex Cycling, will run two junior camps this year utilising the facilities at The Chainstay in Oudenaarde.  The camp the boy’s will attend starts on the 7th July and runs through to the 27th and will see them living and racing with ten other kids (making 13 in total – 5 nieuwelingen and 8 juniors).  There are still some spots left in the second camp which runs from July 28th to 17th August if you’re interested!!

The nieuwelingers can only race two races per week, while the juniors can race three times.  Their race programs look something like this:

For Juniors 15-16 (Nieuwelingen):
7th Arrival
12th Race – Herzele 61.6 km
13th Race – Parike 62 km
16th Race – Opwilk 48 km
20th Race- Zottegem ?? km
22nd Race – Wortegem 60.75 km
23rd Race – Opwijk 55.2 km (option)
26th Race – Borchtlombeek 61 km
27th Departure
For Juniors 17-18:
7th Arrival
8th RaceBrakel (OO) 90 km
11th RaceHerzele (OO) 92.4 km
12th RaceGavere (OO)  85 km
15th RaceOpwijk ( OO)  72 km
16th RaceMechelen (OO) 90 km
19th RaceHET NIEUWSBLAD (IC – Nat114 km
21st RaceHOOGLEDE ( IC- Nat ) 111 km
22nd Race –  Opwijk (OO) 96.6 km (option)
25th RaceBorchtlombeek (OO) 80 km
26th RaceTielt (OO) 84 km
27th Departure

Redus has warned the boys that the racing is FAST, with average speeds of between 45 and 50kmph!  Many include cobbled sections, lots of road furniture and big fields on narrow roads.  Redus is being helped out by a number of coaches and elite racers who will keep an eye on the boys and accompany them on many training rides throughout the region.  They’ll also be expected to pull their weight when it comes to cooking, cleaning and general house duties.

In terms of equipment: for the under-17’s it’s pretty similar although they use a slightly smaller gear (they need to run a 52T chainring with a 16T cassette).  Their wheels also need to have minimum of 16-spokes and can’t be any deeper than 30mm. They can run tubulars or tubeless though, which is good for racing on the cobbles.  The under-19’s have pretty much the same gear as Australia (52×14) with no wheel restrictions.

Some good reading about Oudenaarde and Belgium cycling culture can be found via these links:

http://cyclingtips.com.au/2012/04/ghent-cycling-culture/

http://inrng.com/2014/01/schelde-river-path-fietspad/

http://www.ridemedia.com.au/ride-features/riding-in-flanders/

So stay tuned for the first submission from the boys.  Feel free to ask them questions using the comments section below and I’ll pass them on… and if you’re thinking of going to the second camp… get on it, as places sell out almost as fast as the racing!

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