2019 U23 Road Nationals
The U23 national road race saw seven of the boys lining up in kinder weather than previous years, making us the fourth best represented team in the race. The second time the course had gone through federation uni – the team had maximum g for what to come. Team boss Lachie laid down the law in what is generally not a very complicated race. Ride at the front, ride together, eat, drink and don’t do anything stupid (which is hard for some of us).
Liam Lawlor came into the race with a truncated training block after recovering from a serious crash in late September at Amy’s Ottway Tour. Showing that this hadn’t dented his enthusiasm for racing, he charged off the front in the opening meters of the race, with the enthusiasm of an U15 riding their first race. This was never going to be the move of the day – and quickly returned to the bunch.
U23 road races are generally pretty twitchy. A big crash 20 minutes into the race saw 20 riders touch the deck. Unfortunately the consequence of this was that Ethan and Dan touch the deck (though both managed to get going straight away). In his team debut – Tristan Saunders managed to avoid most of the carnage, but an errant bike flicked up and displaced his front brake. But all seemed ok, and everyone got back into the race.
Unfortunately for Tristan though, his brake worked lose and he was forced to stop in the feed to get it put back on. This would be a barrier to big to overcome for the non-climber and that was his day done. Lachie Darch succumbed shortly afterwards after pulling a few big turns to get everyone back to the front.
At this stage things were still looking pretty good. 5 From 7 starters of the team were still there at the half way point. Unfortunately though – in an incredibly short period of time things started to deteriorate. Mark starting to struggle with the climb, and then Ethan snapped a spoke (likely due to the damage incurred in his earlier crash). As this occurred at the same time that the race was really being turned on – the convoy was in no real position to help and he never made it back on. Dan also succumbed to a mechanical – a disappointing result as he was really starting to show some strong legs.
Liam hung in till the 8th lap – an impressive result off of just 6 weeks training. And then it was just me. The last 3 laps were pretty black and white, being 90km deep on that course the fatigue was starting to set in and the climb only seemed to be getting faster and faster. The second last lap was the fastest up the climb and only a very select group made it over, the pace eased off through the uni, everyone knew what was to come. The pace ramped again on the final climb, and with some solid G up from the boys on the road I stuck to the wheel with everything I had, until Nick White sent a ripping attack up the last few hundred metres, followed by Jenner and Potter. I was off the pace a bit but still managed to get back on to a chasing bunch to sprint into 15th. Thanks to team manager and coach Lachie Ambrose, and all the team’s sponsors for making this result possible, and congratulations to Nick on a solid win!