The Subaru NSWIS Development Team is one of several state institute squads that compete in the National Road Series (NRS), having making its debut in the premier Australian cycling competition last year. Headed up by former track cyclist and Commonwealth gold medallist Ben Kersten, the team is well coached and supported with development a key metric of success.
19-year-old Ayden Toovey won the team's first NRS stage last year at the Tour of the Murray River and having placed third in the U23 Oceania road race last month, looks like continuing his success into 2015.
For its second year, the team has grown in size to accommodate its increased racing program. NSWIS will also field a women's NRS team this season.
Cyclingnews caught up with Kersten to find out a little more about the team ahead of the domestic season.
Cyclingnews: Looking back, how would judge your 2014 NRS season?
Ben Kersten: Overall we were very satisfied with the year. Last year was our first season, we only had six young development guys yet we still got some fantastic results – A first in Murray and a second in National Capital Tour for instance. Taking away results though we exceeded all expectations with the athlete's personal development and as an organisation.
CN: What was different about the team this year, compared to last?
BK: We have grown to nine riders as opposed to six last year. We have some slightly older riders. We have international standard and Australian champion track riders and we have a better mix of riders in terms of skill set. We will also be doing more races this year.
CN: What processes do you go through in recruiting riders?
BK: Our riders either come through the NSW Institute of Sport as track riders, or through our CNSW/NSWIS Talent and Training Squads
CN: What were the expectations of the team for the 2014 season and were they met?
BK: Expectations were that each rider developed. Our mantra is to deliver NSW athletes to career sustainable world-class performances. That starts at a young age building all the pieces to the puzzle. We aren't hunting wins but they are coming never the less just from the talent of these 17-18-year-olds.
CN: What is your team philosophy?
BK: Excellence, Ethics, Accountability, Team work and Social Responsibility
CN: Did you target any particular races last year in the NRS?
BK: Not really. Every race was a learning curve and a challenge to everyone including staff. We targeted them all equally and as importantly.
CN: What is the most challenging race on the NRS calendar?
BK: Tour of Tasmania – That's why we didn't do it. It's challenging in two ways. 1) For the riders, it's the hardest and longest tour, and has the most climbing.
2) For the teams to get all the equipment, cars, vans, staff there is a nightmare and a massive financial burden. In saying this, we would still love to get there because you always want to do the most challenging races.
CN: Who did see as the stand-out rider this season?
BK: Ayden Toovey was our biggest stand out. He was on the podium quite often and on the top step twice. He was always in breaks and brought his 'A game' mentally and physically every time. He is really messy and can't cook but we can work on that.
CN: What are your thoughts on the NRS calendar in terms of length and location?
BK: It's unfortunate that we don't have any tours in NSW. It's fantastic for Victoria to have most of them but I feel we should move there sometimes we are there so much. Some people love the June July break but I'm not a huge fan. two months of nothing then five times one week tours in seven weeks or something. I'd prefer to spread them out.
CN: Financially, what are the major challenges in racing the NRS?
BK: Entries are too expensive. After that is the transport of two vehicles to and from races and also during the races. You need three staff members to make this happen per race. If you aren't paying your helpers/staff then they aren't at their own work anyway. So there is always a cost to someone somewhere.
CN: Are there any major changes to the team in 2015?
BK: We have started a women's team with the help of some very eager parents named Subaru NSWIS NKC. We also have a new and unique partnership for the men's team that we will release very shortly.
CN: Who are your main financial and equipment sponsors?
BK: Subaru and the NSW Institute of Sport were our main financial sponsors for 2014. And this will continue in 2015 with addition of the Women's Team. Trek and Bontrager are our bicycle and accessory sponsors for 2014 and we are proud to announce this will continue into 2015 along with the Women's Team.
Champion System have been fantastic supporter of the NRS Team, the NSW Institute of sport cycling program and topping up again with our Women's Team for 2015. All of boys NRS Team are Bont Pilots.
2015 Subaru NSWIS Development Team roster: Nathan Bradshaw, Harry CarterJordan Payne, Chris Bryan, Sam Jenner, Ayden Toovey, Nic Yallouris, Tirian McManus and Jackson Law.