GREEN and gold bands forever. It is a powerful motivator for Horsham cyclist Mark O’Brien ahead of the Cycling Australia Road National Championships, in Ballarat next week.
The victor at the national championships earns the honour of having the national bands on his or her jersey for the rest of their career.
O’Brien’s coach, 2007 national road race champion Darren Lapthorne has them, and now the 25-year-old wants them too.
“To win nationals would literally be my dream,” O’Brien said.
“(Lapthorne) will have the national bands on the sleeves of his kit for the rest of his life and no one can take that away from him.
“It would be such a huge honour to wear the national jersey overseas, the respect you would receive would be so much greater.
“If I was able to achieve that, then I would be satisfied with my life on the bike.”
The 2003 Australian under-17 national champion has been training with Lapthorne in regional Victoria and goes into the men’s road race on a modified course at Buninyong on Sunday, January 13, in career-best form.
“I am training harder than ever and my training data is telling me I’m in the best form I have ever been in,” said O’Brien, who finished 12th in the event last year.
“I have always gone into nationals doing the same training as most professionals, and have always done well on the Buninyong course, but this time I really want to give it everything I have and line up with the best possible form,” he said.
The championships begin with time trials on a course taking in Lake Wendouree and the Avenue of Honour on Wednesday, criteriums in Sturt Street on Thursday night and road races at Buninyong on Saturday and Sunday.
Cycling Australia National Road Championships
Wednesday, Jan 9: Time trial, Lake Wendouree (start/finish), Avenue of Honour
9.30am: under-23 men (29.2km)
Noon: elite and under-23 women (29.2km)
2.30pm: elite men (37km)
Thursday, Jan 10: Criterium, Sturt Street
4.30pm: under-23 men (30 laps – 33km)
5.45pm: elite and under-23 women (30 laps – 33km)
7pm: elite men (40 laps – 44km)
Friday, Jan 11: Rest day
Saturday, Jan 12: Road race, Buninyong
9am: under-23 men (137.2km)
1.30pm: elite and under-23 women (106.6km)
Sunday, Jan 13: Road race
8am: Amy’s Ride (100km-70km)
8.15am: Amy’s Ride (20km)
11.30am: elite men (195.6km)