U23 National Championship Road Race Preview

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The Australian U23 Road Race takes place today in Ballarat. Traditionally held in scorching temperatures, the riders will be blessed with a maximum of 22 degrees and a late afternoon Euro start time of 1450hrs.

The riders face a 127.6-kilometre test around Bunninyong in what is always an unpredictable affair. In the past eight years, the biggest group to contest the finish is six riders. A genuine war of attrition is always the theme of the day and attention is required from the gun. In 2013, 30 riders went up the road in the first two laps and were never seen again. Its ultra-important to stay alert early.

It’s a course that requires the winner to harbour a wide skill set. Climbing legs are key, but tactical nous and a punchy finish are traits that are desirable on this testing parcour. Previous winners of the race include Caleb Ewan, Miles Scotson, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn and Chris Hamilton. A mix of winning rider types highlight the unpredictability and fantastic balance of the U23 nationals, and this year is no easier to predict.

InForm TM Insight MAKE have ten riders on their team sheet and probably have the strongest team on paper. Strength in numbers is always advantageous on a course that is tricky to control so they will be looking to throw guys up the road to put pressure on the other squads. Oliver’s Real Food Racing, Pro Racing Sunshine Coast and Team BridgeLane are the other squads with several riders that will be looked at as the squads to dictate the outcome of the race.

The big call- Ten riders to go clear early with another ten to bounce across with two laps to to go. Four riders to arrive at the finish with Nicholas White to take the choccies.

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Riders to watch:

Sam Jenner- A previous winner of this race in 2017 and always has good Aussie summer legs. A crafty rider with some experience at the highest level in the sport racing the Tour Down Under in 2017. After a relatively quiet 2018, he will be looking to get his name up in the bright lights again. Has the number 1 on his back.

Nicholas White- A super consistent season in the 2018 NRS saw White finish second in the overall standings. He has the traits to be successful here today. He can climb well and has a finish quick enough to dust up most of the guys likely to arrive at the finish. A Ballarat local, expect to see him right in the mix.

Carter Turnbull- Winner of the 2018 U19 Oceania Road Championships and represented Australia at the UCI Junior Road Worlds last year. This is his first year in the U23 ranks so it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the new age group. A super climber, he will be hoping to use his teammates to his advantage.

Kelland O’Brien- A World Record holder in the team pursuit on the track, this bloke has some Bradley Wiggins traits. Tall, lean, a track king and looks super on a bike. The repetitive climbing on the course may be his undoing. However, looking at some of the previous winners, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see K. O’Brien win the green and gold jersey. Being rolled up in a two up sprint in the criterium yesterday, he will be on a mission today.

Alexander Evans- A genuine climber. Evans was second to Esteban Chaves in a mountain top finish at the Herald Sun Tour last year. He had a trainee stint with BMC in 2018 and chalked up a 3rd place in stage 1 at Tour of the Gila. He must arrive at the finish solo but the course may not be hard enough for him to shake his rivals. The harder the better for Evans.

Michael Potter- Potter was third here last year and will look to be on the top step in 2019. He looked super in the criterium yesterday and pulled the plug after just 20 minutes to keep his powder dry for today. It’s his last year in the category so its last chance saloon for Potter in the U23 ranks.

Smokeys-  Liam Magennis, Jarrad Drizners, Seb Berwick, Harry Sweeney, Rudy Porter.

See you back at the social club,

CF

Campbell Flakemore