Riders hit the road in preparation for National Road Championships

PREPARATIONS for the upcoming Cycling Australia Road National Championships are in full flow, with athletes already making the trek to the Ballarat region to devise strategies for the event spanning from January 8-12.

Ballarat cyclist Liam White has spent the past several days housing the Essendon SKODA under-23 team as it maps out the course and plans tactics for the time trial, criterium and road race categories.

White, 19, is a member of the Ballarat-Sebastopol Cycling Club and in his first year as part of the Essendon SKODA Team.

“We’ve been building well over the past few weeks, but I’ve had limited preparation because of my (year 12) studies,” he said.

“It probably won’t be until next year that I get to know where I am in terms of fitness and miles in the legs – so I won’t enter these championships with any high expectations.”

White will compete in the criterium and road race categories, with the hilly layouts in both races to sit against the sprinters natural strengths.

This year’s courses have an obvious penchant for long climbs and winding descents.

The under-23 road race will run across 132.6 kilometres of Buninyong’s various acclivities and descents via way of 10 13.2-kilometre laps, while the criterium will run 30 laps around Sturt Street, with the cyclists forced to negotiate a substantial three per cent gradient in each 1.1-kilometre lap.

The Essendon SKODA team will feature seven riders competing across every under-23 category, and its riders and owner/manager Bob Kelly are determined to put together a string of strong performances for the team’s first outing on the national stage.

“This will be the pinnacle of the season for these riders, and although it’s a fairly young crew I’d be hoping to see a few placings in the five to 20 range,” Kelly said.

As excited as the team members are about the potential appearance of Cadel Evans, they are equally as excited to test themselves against young gun Caleb Ewan, who is being talked up as a smokey for the Tour Down Under, also in January.

“It’s probably only a few times a year that you get to race against riders of that standard and it’s a great way to test yourself to see where you stand,” White said.

michael.pollock@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Update on the fields, page 30 

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