Archive for the ‘Nationals’ Category

When the start lists for the CA Junior Road Nats ITT came out today, CyclingDad received a number of emails and messages about the seeding – or perceived lack thereof.

Now CyclingDad doesn’t like to do negative posts, so I’ll try and do a constructive post to hopefully improve this process for next year and beyond.

I was sent some correspondence with CA from a ‘concerned parent’ that questioned the seeding for the weekend and how it was arrived at.  The correspondent in question was quite calm and reasonable in his argument that CA got the seeding pretty wrong.  He was also thankful that the powers that be within CA actually responded to his questions in a timely manner and attempted to explain how it seeded the riders for the ITT.

Cutting and pasting from the email response sent to him from CA:

U15M – Not one of the top 8 from last year is competing in the U15’s this year, so these seeding were given with a ranking for the first 10 and alphabetical for the rest. (CD: But how was the seeding for the first 10 arrived at?)
U15W – The top 3 seeds all finished in the top 10 last year, the next 7 were then allocated alphabetical.
U17W – The top 2 both finished in the top 10 last year, then the next 8 were ranked with 5 of those finishing in the top 8 in the U15W last year.
U17M – The top 4 were the highest place (CD: bottom age) riders in the U17 from last year results (4,7,8,9), then the next 6 were the highest placings from the U15’s last year. 
Common sense and some research would provide a better and more accurate seeding system.  It can't be that hard!

Common sense and some research would provide a better and more accurate seeding system. It can’t be that hard!

Now without going through last year’s results and this year’s seedings, lets take this at face value.  Does this method make any sense?  Does it provide the best seeding outcome?  I guess we’ll find out on Friday afternoon, but at first sight it seems flawed at best… and probably very antiquated – going back to a time before the internet when results weren’t readily available at the click of a button.  Maybe it made sense then.  It makes no sense now!  It was seemingly done this way, because it’s always been done this way.

All of the weighting on the seeding was placed on last year’s nationals.  Oddly it seems that the previous year’s top-age riders – who moved up to a higher age-category (under-15 to under-17) – are rated significantly more highly than the previous year’s bottom-aged riders, now racing top-age in that same category… if that makes sense??  And it doesn’t.  Especially with the introduction of the much bigger jump in gear size.

The biggest example of how badly this current seeding method has failed is to look at the JM15s, where Graeme Frislie (VIC) hasn’t been seeded.  Now Graeme won the ITT at the Shepparton JT in June, on the same course and against many of the seeded riders in the JM15 category.  Graeme won his state ITT title against all of the 10 Victorian riders that have been seeded for nationals, while he hasn’t.  Every man and his dog who has followed junior cycling this year knows Graeme will start as one of the favourites this weekend in all three of the disciplines he competes in.  Simply; because the existing process didn’t seed Graeme IT IS FLAWED.  End of story.  And needs to be fixed.

There are many other similar arguments that could be made around well performed riders from this season that didn’t get seeded.  Who cares?  Well I think some of the riders probably do.  The concerned cycling parent’s email to CA suggests that it’s a slap in the face to the kids who have worked hard all season for zero recognition.

He also suggests that by getting the seeding wrong it opens the result up more to the vagaries of the weather.  The example he uses is Braden O’Shea (SA) – who should have been seeded in the top-five in the JM17’s given his results this year.  Now Braden starts over an hour before the top-seeds in his ITT.  What if the wind is blowing it’s guts out when he starts and then dies to a whisper an hour later?  Looking at the timing, it’s probably more likely to go the other way, where Braden gets the better conditions than the later starters.  Neither outcome is fair and with better seeding could have been avoided.

CA argues it doesn’t have the resources to go through all the results and rank riders.  Without an ongoing national ranking system, as used in so many other countries is one solution, it would take all of a day to look at the results of all the state champs, Buffalo and maybe the leading junior tour in each state to work out who-who in the zoo.

Easier still, ask the Team Managers to seed their best four riders, then draw the state starting order out of a hat and presto, you wouldn’t get it as wrong as it currently is, at least arguably the top 24 riders would be the last 24 to start.

Will the best rider win regardless?  Probably and hopefully!

And does it all really matter?  Probably not, but if it can be improved, why don’t we improve it?

Wishing you all a safe trip to Shepp, good health to the riders and no crashes for the whole weekend.

CyclingDad

State teams are selected…  Entries are closed…  Tapers have begun…

There are over 90 entries in the JM17 category and over 50 in the JM15.  Add in over 55 young ladies in the 15 and 17 categories and it’s shaping as a big junior road nats.

First up Friday is the ITT.  A rolling dead out-and-back course that is likely to have a nasty cross wind – probably slightly helping one-way and hurting the other.  Pacing is pretty important with a lot of the riders coming back in after the Shepparton Junior Tour, on the same course, reporting blowing up half-way home.  The under-15’s have 10km, while the under-17’s must suffer for 15kms.

It looks like there are three standouts in the JM17’s with SA’s Liam Nolan, Vicrtoria’s Godfrey Slattery and WA’s Craig Wiggins looking strongest.  Nolan and Slattery have had a ding-dong battle this year, each beating the other in the lead-up.  It was Nolan who took the honours at the Shepparton Junior Tour, but only by a handful of seconds.  While Wiggins, hidden away in the west, has outstanding performances in past Nationals including being the best placed first-year last year and beating all-comers to win the under-15 crown the year before in Wagga.  Other notables likely to be in the mix include Mitch Wright, Riley Hart, Sebastian Berwick, Braden O’Shea, Cooper Sayers and Stephen Cuff.

In the under-17 women, big favourites for the ITT include WA’s Jade Haines, NSW’s Natasha MullanyEmily Watts and Chloe Heffernan along with Queensland’s Alexandra Martin-Wallace.  Throw in SA’s Maeve Moroney-Plouffe, Victorian’s Georgia O’Rourke and Sarah Gigante and Tassie’s Morgan Gillon and we’re set for a right old fight.

Favourites in the under-15 men include Shepperton JT winner and Track Champion-of-Champions, Graeme Frisle (VIC) along with NSW’s Will McClennon (who won his State title by 45-seconds over Luke Ensor).  Throw in James Moriarty (QLD) who won the hotly contested Canberra JT along with Tasmanian Eddie Calvert and WA’s Sebastian Barrat and it’s probably the hardest age-category to pick the podium.

In the under-15 girls all eyes will be on SA’s Olivia Wheeler, a dominant winner in the ITT at the Shepp JT. Then look to Laura Berwick (ex-QLD now NSW), Amelia Miles (ACT), Chloe Hollingsworth (NSW) while the Bradbury sisters, Neve and Isla will fly the local hopes.

Day two sees the road races; interestingly run in the anti-clockwise direction.  When run this way as a stage in past Shepp JT’s we’ve always seen a much reduced group finish compared to when the loop is run in a clockwise direction (as it was at this year’s Shepp JT).  It seems to be a mix of the longer uphill drag and the wind.  Let’s hope that’s the case as I don’t think many cycling parents would be looking forward to big bunch sprint finishes!

Favourites are probably the same as the above listed riders.  Maybe throw in some good bunch races (those able to hold position) and fast finishers.  It’ll be interesting to see how the the state team riders cope with riding as a team.

It’s probably worth looking at which teams are strong enough to actually benefit from racing as a team.  In the JM17’s it’s SA, Victoria and perhaps NSW.  If we see a strong rider from each of these teams in a break it may well be a good break to be in.  If these three teams aren’t chasing then who will?

In the JW17’s NSW looks the strongest team although Haines is definitely the strongest individual rider.  It is likely this will be more a race of attrition with the strongest girls contesting the finish. Keep an eye on Laura Jones (NSW) who has made a habit of winning road races this season.

In the JM15’s it’s a much more even contest.  Also their smaller gears will make it hard for anyone of any significance to get away.  The same can be said of the JW15’s, which it likely to again come down to a sprint from a small bunch.

The criterium is an interesting one.  After last year’s super smooth flowing course in Toowoomba, which saw crashes aplenty, this course is hopefully slightly more selective.  Being bumpier and narrower in places we won’t see riders six-wide like they were at Toowoomba, and the little pinch of a hill every lap will eventually have an effect on those just hanging on.

The 'little pinch' on the back straight of the DECA crit course. Not much to look at, but the legs will start hurting if the pressure comes on.

The ‘little pinch’ on the back straight of the DECA crit course. Not much to look at, but the legs will start hurting if the pressure comes on.

I think it’s a good move to reduce the number of finalists in the junior men’s categories – 36 for both, down from 50 in Toowoomba!  With three heats for the JM17’s that’s just the top 12 getting through (while the top 18 get through from the JM15’s two heats).

Let’s hope there is a lot less carnage than last year where bodies and bikes were both broken across seven crashes in the criteriums.  Good news is it’s logistically a very good place for a crit with lots of bitumen to set up your marquees etc.

DECA is blessed with good set-up and viewing options. Bring some shelter though if it's sunny… or rainy!

DECA is blessed with good set-up and viewing options. Bring some shelter though if it’s sunny… or rainy!

Well, that’s about it.  Kids: eat well, sleep well and make sure your bikes are all in tip-top shape; parents… do the same and remember to remind the kids it’s not about the results – there can only be one winner in each race – it’s about how they perform against their own goals going in.  Safe travels and see you all in Shepparton.

CyclingDad

PS> Long range weather forecasts look good – although this Victoria!  Only downside is not much wind being forecast at this stage.

With Junior State Championships starting to be run and won and State Teams starting to be announced, you now Junior Road Nationals is just around the corner.  Well, it’s still some eight weeks away, but that will be here in the blink of an eye.

It’s probably the last chance for athletes to freshen up, while there aren’t a lot of junior tours left to tune up in: Toowoomba is one and Centrals is the other that might be considered.  Recent tours have probably further stamped the favourites with no real upsets at Eildon to speak of.

We know the road race and ITT courses from the recent Shepparton JT, but the criterium course was somewhat up in the air.  I hear on the grapevine that the crits will likely be held at the DECA Training Centre.  The Shepparton JT used to use this circuit as a fourth stage going back a good few years; and the Shepparton CC have held the odd event there.  While I haven’t seen the course in person, it seems to provide a good solution offering a safe course and good logistics.

Let's hope the weather is like this for Nationals in September!

The DECA hill.  Let’s hope the weather is like this for Nationals in September!

Check out a onboard video of the circuit here and this is the strava segment.

Good luck to all those still to race their State Champs and hoping all riders remain fit and healthy in the lead up to Nationals.

 

After CyclingDad’s recent ‘Call for Contributions’, a regular reader pointed out that one of the major changes to the Cycling Australia Junior Cycling Policy – released last month – is the change to race distances.  CyclingDad, like this reader, thinks there’s a bit of good to the changes, but equally some questionable decision making.

It is quite a substantial document, with a lot of governance, duty of care and motherhood statements – many of them necessary for the sport to meet the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Junior Sports Guidelines.  One major change is the cancellation of prize money for junior racing.  It doesn’t even give promoters the option of keeping it!  It simply advocates: no prize money.  Is this a good thing?  Most parents I speak to don’t think so, and even race promoters think it’s far easier to put $20 into an envelop than to have to organise trophies, ribbons or medals.

The biggest changes through are the changes to the distances the varying age-groups are allowed to race.  Some positive changes here with the girls now able to race the same distance as the boys across all age-categories – this means some big increases for the under-17 girls who are now able to race 70km races (and 50km in stage races).

If only the road lead to good decisions...

If only all roads led to good decisions…

The policy itself seems a little contradictory: for e.g. in under-15’s ‘Competitive Stream’, CA recommends training sessions can be up-to two-hours (with up to six sessions and 175km per week) while at the same time reducing the maximum distance back to just 20kms for a stage race!  It’ll take the under-15 boy’s less than 40-minutes to race 20kms in a mass start stage race, yet CA is advocating that they can train up to two-hours in a session, six times a week?!  Complete contradiction plus in no way reflective of the fitness and capabilities this level of recommended training will give these riders; nor is it preparing them for the jump up to the under-17s where they can race more than twice as far (and on a significantly bigger gear!).

CA is even likely to contravene it’s own policy at the junior road nationals in Shepparton later this year where the road race for the under-15 boy’s will exceed 30km – likely to be 39.6km!  At the recent Shepparton JT we saw 20 of the 21 riders contest the finish in A-grade as the course simply wasn’t selective – largely due to it being just 23.5km (exceeding CA’s 20km limit!).  I for one as a parent would like a more selective race for no other reason as to reducing the likelihood of a crash in a big bunch sprint finish!

Before these changes under-15 boy’s were racing stages up to 50km long, and managing quite well with them.  As stated, I think the equalisation of the distance girls and boys of the same age can ride is a good move, but to so reduce the distance under-15’s can ride is simply a terrible, ill-informed decision.  It’s worth pointing out that this change won’t impact the children of either the reader who sent this in or CyclingDad as our kids have already moved through the under-15 category.

Thankfully the changes don’t seem to have filtered through to the ‘real world’ with both this weekend’s Wagga Wagga JT and next month’s Eildon JT offering stages well over the 20km limit for the under-15 boys… although the under-17 girls are only being offered the same distance as the under-15 boys, rather than the same courses being offered to the under-17 boys.  Both tours are also offering stages exceeding the CA policy for the under-17 boys.

Confused?  I know I am.  I understand CA needed to update its junior policy (mainly to keep the ASC happy, who, after all is its major funder), but to so drastically change race distances is, in my opinion – and the opinion of many in the junior cycling community – a decision that needs to be reviewed… and quickly!  Perhaps, in the real world, it won’t have a significant impact and junior tour organisers will continue to offer stages exceeding policy limits.

I don’t like taking pot-shots at CA, especially in its current state… it is an easy target!  And there is a lot that’s good about the policy – not so much changes, rather documenting things so they’re all in one place.  I would have liked to see the policy perhaps go further with regard to junior tours, mandating minimum safety standards and traffic management based on speed limits the courses are held on.

Any how, keen to get your thoughts on these changes – especially those in or coming into the under-15 category.  For those who haven’t read the new policy it’s here.

Safe riding everyone.

The Shepparton Junior Tour has been run and won for 2015.  While not without its hiccups, the various issues didn’t seem to interfere with the racing and most people seemed pleased with the tour.  Even the Mt Major Hill Climb went off without too many issues (save for one J11 girl who crashed on the way back down).

But what does the tour tell us in terms of The Junior Nationals due to be held there from 11-13 September 2015?

The Road Race

Hard to be Nostradamus, and especially after my previous post analysing the 2011 finishes, but I think because we’ve arguably got a bigger group of stronger riders, the junior nationals road race will end in a bunch gallop in most age categories.  Just looking at the A-grade groups from the weekend, some 30 (out of 37 starters) JM17A’s contested the finish.  In the JM15A’s 19 of the 21 contested the finish (and it would have been 20/21 with one top rider having a mechanical).  The girls categories probably don’t have quite the evenness or depth at the moment, however in the JW17’s half the field finished within 48-seconds of the winning group of two riders.

Will wind, an extra lap and State ‘team’s racing’ effect the outcome?  Ask locals and its windy in that part of the world 360 out of 365 days a year!  Yes, wind will make it harder and yes an additional lap will shell some additional riders, but again, looking at the boy’s fields, we have incredible depth in these categories at the moment.  And if last year’s nationals was anything to go by, the riders don’t seem to have really grasped the idea of ‘team’s racing’.

I don’t mind the idea of mixing up junior nationals courses; presenting a sprinters course one year and a more selective course the next.  I can tell you that the proposed 2016 Bendigo course doesn’t look super selective (but it is definitely harder than Shepp) while the 2017 course in Tassie will suit the rouleurs.  After all, the climbers have Buffalo don’t they?

The bunch kick in the JM17A road race - some 30 riders contested the finish after some 53kms.  Photo credit: Junior SA Cycling Pics

The bunch kick in the JM17A road race – some 30 riders contested the finish after some 53kms. Photo credit: Junior SA Cycling Pics

A report from some athletes who took part in the 2011 JM17 road race on the same course suggested it wasn’t at all selective (nor was it windy), apparently it was a series of crashes on the last lap that played the biggest part in the spread out finish.  Let’s not hope for a repeat of that.

The Time Trial

While difficult to compare apples with oranges, looking at the results from the 2011 Junior Nats (held on the same course but 2kms longer for all divisions except JW15s), we have a crack year of athletes.  Already in June our JM17 tour winner, SA’s Liam Nolan, had the same average speed as the 2011 National Champion – a slick 42.4kmph!  Allowing for the usual improvement from June to September and the winner better be aiming for a high-43km average speed!

JM17A ITT winner SA's Liam Nolan averaged over 42kmph on the rolling out-and-back course. Photo Credit: Junior SA Cycling Pics

JM17A ITT winner SA’s Liam Nolan averaged over 42kmph on the rolling out-and-back course. Photo Credit: Junior SA Cycling Pics

The JM15A winner, Graeme Frislie, was also close to 2011 champion Cameron’s Scott’s average speed (38.70 vs 39.03) – and he wasn’t even riding his own bike due to a mechanical after the finish of the road stage.  I would say that Cam and Graeme are similar sorts of riders – neither are really TT specialists, they’re just super strong riders… and that’s what this course suits.

The Crit

The locals want the crit held around ‘The Lake Course’.  Long at ~2.2km, but flat and picturesque, the course is well suited to breakaway action, but if kept together sets up well for a sprint finish.  Not super technical – there is one ‘S-bend’ entering the actual lake road, but other than that, the corners are pretty manageable.  The road, in places, is pretty dead and there is likely to be wind, so it could well be a race of attrition where positioning is very important.

There are some videos of the course on the Shepparton Cycling Club site and hopefully SCC will run a test crit in the lead up to the event.

Keen to hear others thoughts as to what we might expect come September in Shepparton…