The start of the New Year signifies one thing to the Australian cycling community; Road Nationals time. One of the highlights of the calendar for most National Road Series riders, it is the favourite week of racing for the Butterfields- Insurance Advisernet p/b VDR team.
With no team riders opting to race the time-trial it was an unprecedented enjoyable first half of the week where team owner/DS/mechanic Lachlie Ambrose wasn’t frantically fixing TT bikes which are neglected for much of the year. However, results were closely followed and gave everyone a good indication of which riders to look out for later into the week.
Tristan Saunders will kick off the 2020 campaign for the team being the sole representative in the Friday afternoon u23 criterium around Sturt Street in the heart of Ballarat. The schedule for the u23s make it quite a tactical choice for riders to either sit out of the criterium or participate as it is less than 24 hours before the road race kicks off the next day. It either is the perfect pre-race ride or takes some of the kick out of the legs and often comes down to personal rider preference.
Saunders should feature towards the pointy end as the tough course suits him and he’ll hope to showcase his sprinting talents. With heavy rain forecasted for the afternoon and a wet hotdog circuit on the cards it will be one which you would not want to miss as it promises to be full of action.
In the elite mens criterium which kicks off at 5pm AEST and is broadcasted live on SBS Cycling Central, we have three representatives lining up. David Randall will look to improve on his top 20 from the previous year and doesn’t mind a wet and technical circuit. New faces for 2020, Matt Hutchinson and Curtis Dowdell will make their debut for the team and you can expect to see them being aggressive and trying to steal some TV time throughout the race.
On Saturday the focus turns to the u23 road race which is always one of the highlights for the team with development being a key focus for the squad. Saunders will once again line up and will hopefully fly under the radar until the end of the race. Many of the pre-race favourites will be looking for a reduced bunch sprint and Saunders will look to capitalise on this should he survive eleven laps of the brutal Mt Buninyong circuit. Supporting him will be young gun Daniel Siwek who enjoys flying up the hills as well as new signing Will Golding who will want to impress on debut.
Live coverage of the race is hard to come by but be sure to follow the teams socials as we keep you updated on the race.
Sunday will see the largest Van D’am contingent ever race the elite road race with four riders lining up. First year elite, Iven Bennett is sure to give it a red hot crack and don’t be surprised to see him get up the road in the early breakaway. There are few riders who suffer more than the hard Tasmanian and he will no doubt enjoy the aspect of racing the Aussie pros. The crit trio of Randall, Hutchinson and Dowdell will also line up hoping to have an impact on the race.
Be sure to tune into SBS from 2pm as they showcase the last three hours of the elite mens road race on Sunday.
If you see any red Van D’am kits around be sure to give them a shout and a bit of encouragement. A few of our development team riders are rocking the kit and giving the u19s race a crack. Most of them are first year juniors so it is sure to be an eye opening experience for them!
Keep up to date with all the results at https://www.roadnationals.org.au as well at the teams social pages throughout the weekend. Thanks again to all our sponsors who make this happen as we look to continue our progression in 2020.