THE multi-day Festival Of Cycling in Adelaide, starting on Thursday, will be the perfect opportunity for Ballarat cyclist Liam White to blow out the cobwebs, just six weeks after a serious fall which could have derailed his summer campaign.
Admitting to being a bit underdone and still riding with a plate stabilising his injured shoulder - which is expected to stay in until Easter - the 26-year-old says he was looking forward to a chance to race again, having missed so much competition in 2020 due to the pandemic and then injury.
White suffered a broken left shoulder blade, and dislocated AC joint and collarbone when he hit a pole on the back of a motorbike during an incident in the last event of the nine-day National Tour on December 6 in New South Wales.
Incredibly he missed just five days on the bike as he has slowly regained his strength to get back to racing.
"There's not so much of a soreness, it's more an issue of certain movements outside the usual range of motion," he said of the battle to be fit again.
"When you're on a bike you're straight up and down, there's not a lot of lateral movement.
"They hope to have it out by Easter, the shorter amount of time it's in the better, but I've just got to deal with it now."
Reliving the crash, White said it was one of the biggest he had been involved in.
"I definitely wasn't the most impacted at all, there's a couple of guys who are still having issues walking," he said.
"For me, I'm pretty very lucky, it's more a pain in the backside more than anything.
"A couple of weeks ago I was in strife, but as the weeks have gone on, I've managed to get to it pretty quickly.
"The body bounces back quick endurance-wise."
With no Tour Down Under this year, organisers have managed to coordinate a 'Festival Of Cycling' through South Australia.
It includes a four-day men's and women's road race through many of South Australia's picturesque valleys and hill tops.
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For White, it is the perfect chance to get back into the feel of racing, heading into the Road Nationals in February in Ballarat.
"We train to race, we don't race to train," he said.
"Having no racing for so much of last year was tough mentally, but it's something we had to deal with."
The Festival Of Cycling road race features a circuit from Seppeltsfield to Tununda on day 1, Birdwood to Lobethal on day 2, the McLaren Vale to Willunga climb on day 3 and criterium circuit in Adelaide to finish on Sunday.
Forecasts are for temperatures in the high 30s over the weekend, which White admits will no doubt take its toll at some point on many of the riders, who, for many, will get their first real opportunity to ride alongside Australia's best
"It's going to be hot, hard and fast racing particularly with the calibre of the teams," he said. "There's quite a lot of depth, you've got the world tour guys and then there's those club riders that might be racing at this level for the first time.
"I'm personally not in the best condition but hopefully this week of racing brings me up to speed a bit more. Obviously the preparation has been less than ideal, but I just want to enjoy it and get through it."
While White himself is keen to enjoy it, for brother Nick, the year will being endless possibilities.
"I don't want to pump up his tryes that much, but Nick is flying at the moment," he said. "I think he'll go really well this week and he'll be in good condition heading to nationals, he'll be one to watch, he's climbing and sprinting well."
Personally, White said his goals for 2021 lay in completing his Masters course to become an occupational therapist, but on the bike he will wait and see how the pandemic turns around.
"If we get to Asia, that will be great, but right now the national series will be the red hot goal of mine."
The Road Nationals will be held from February 3-7.