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Brenton Jones, a 20-year-old Victorian and Warragul resident was disappointed this year’s Tour of Gippsland wouldn’t be visiting his home town as it has in past editions. However, the 2009 Junior Australian Cross Country representative turned full time road racer understands that just being able to race again is impressive enough.
Jones was involved in a horrific accident at last year’s Tour of Toowoomba and was airlifted to hospital in a serious condition. He spent three months off the bike, undergoing a heavy program of rehabilitation before riding again in late September of 2011.
"It was a very traumatic experience for my family. To come back from that and come out of it, I said ‘you know what, my goal is still to be a professional cyclist’. Since then my dedication has really lifted and I’ve been focusing twice as hard as before that accident," Jones told Cyclingnews.
Jones’ promising form at Gippsland may have failed to net him that elusive first National Road Series win but he was content with his week racing for Team Torq - Bicycle Superstore; second-place on stage four, third on stage five and finishing outside the top-ten on just two occasions. Jones achieved similar placings at this year’s Tour of Toowoomba and Santos North Western Tour which he says is product of his attention to detail.
"I’ve come to understand that the results I’m getting are a result of focusing 100 per cent on cycling. The hard work is not just on the bike but off the bike as well, I really need to do that.
"I’m one of those guys who focuses on training, in particular on power and heart rate. Planning rides to perfection, giving 100 or 110 percent. That’s the kind of guy I am," Jones said.
His rapid progression and consistency this year stirred the interest of the number-one ranked team in the Australian NRS, Genesys Wealth Advisers. Jones’ move to the powerful Continental team is a step in the right direction for the rider who is unafraid, despite his age and relative inexperience, to tackle Grafton to Inverell or Melbourne to Warrnambool later in the year.
"It’s definitely something I haven’t done before and I haven’t raced any longer mountain bike races. But with my current form I think with the right training and races leading up to them, I should be able to handle it."
It will be less than a week before Jones lines up for the "Orange Army" at the Tour of the Great South Coast, held around Victoria. While confident in his own abilities, Jones understands he needs to prove his worth before looking for personal results.
"I can’t expect to go in and expect the guys to work for me. I’ve got to earn their respect first and I think that’s very important - you’ve got to earn your teammates respect and help them out. And hey, if you’re the best guy on the day and they say 'we’re working for you' I’m not going to complain but at first you’ve got to work for them and support the team," he told Cyclingnews.
Following next week’s Tour, Jones plans on contesting most of the NRS series and if the team believes he’s ready, the Japan Cup may also be part of his calendar. Genesys Wealth Advisers won the one-day race last year with Nathan Hass before he moved to Garmin-Sharp for the 2012 season.
"The Japan Cup has been mentioned. Hopefully, if I have some good form and there’s a spot for me in the team that would be fantastic. I’ve just got to keep working hard at home and do my best and hopefully come out with some good form."
Jones was extremely grateful for his time spent with the Team Torq and the encouragement given by his team to step up and take his racing to the next level.
"They feel that every rider in this position has to step up at some point to experience greater opportunities and they are happy for me to take a bigger step in my cycling career. They are happy to see riders progress from mountain biking. Same as Steele Von Hoff. He moved from Torq to Genesys so I’m in a similar position to him. Now, in Genesys I’ve got those opportunities presented to me."