In this week’s NRS shorts, we look back at the Battle on the Border and look forward to the fourth Tour of Toowoomba which starts on Thursday. You can find full race reports and results for Toowoomba by clicking here.
The 'Battle' was almost an all blue affair as Avanti Racing Team took the race by the scruff of the neck while in the women’s event, a strong time trial performance by Tessa Fabry (Jayco/Apollo/VIS) laid the platform for her first NRS stage race victory.
Avanti, Avanti, Avanti
Last week Cyclingnewsspoke to Steve Price, the co-owner of the Avanti Racing Team about his expectations for 2014. "We go into every race to win it...," he said. And win they did.
Last year Cooper blitzed the time trial to claim the win and this year was no different as the 2013 New Zealand national time trial champion won the stage three race against the clock and moved into the overall lead.
The next day, Scott Law won the stage four sprint to make it three wins for Avanti and at the conclusion of the five-stage event, the final podium was Haig in third, O'Brien in second and Cooper in first place.
Data#3 Symantec impress in the Battle
Data#3 Symantec Race Team put in a good team effort at the Battle to finish sixth in the overall team classification but the efforts of Fraser Gough to solo to stage five victory and Correy Edmed's climbing skills that propelled him to ninth on GC, were the highlights of the five-day race.
"I'm so pumped on the win," said Fraser. "I've been on a good roll lately and the team have just ridden out of their skin to get me into the right places all weekend, so I'm glad I could convert one for the team and bring home a big win. It was unreal to see us all pull together and get Correy inside the top-10 and the team in sixth. Bring on Toowoomba."
Buoyed by the results, the team will start the fourth NRS race of the year confident of more success.
"I couldn't be happier with the results," said Sports Director Fraser Northey. "The guys rode smart all week and really put in when they had to. For us to take home a top-six on [the] Team's classification shows how well we're starting to gel together. When you then add in a top-10 on GC for Correy and stage win for Fraser, it's one hell of a weekend. The rest of the guys did a great support job in some really trying conditions, so I'm really feeling good about our chances moving into Toowoomba."
As revealed last week, Lizzie Williams (Specialized Securitor) will take a break from racing the NRS for a stint overseas. She has signed a short-term deal with the American Vanderkitten team and makes her debut at the Philadelphia Classic on June 2.
Williams won two of the four stages at the Battle on the Border and was second overall behind Tessa Fabry on the general classification. Williams also won the final stage at the Mersey Valley Tour in Tasmania.
Ruth Corset leading the NRS
Ruth Corset (Holden Women's Cycling Team) remains the leader of the Women's NRS after the Battle on the Border by a slender two point margin and she has aspirations of winning the overall, but finding balance in her life and finding time for her family is equally important.
"It is tempting to finish the year on top now that I am in the lead," Corset told Cyclingnews. "I am only in the lead by two points but I am not going to stress about it…It would be nice to win it, but it is not all consuming like it would have been earlier in my life and career. I just have to balance family life, work and cycling."
Corset won't be on the start line for the next NRS event, the Tour of Murray River in August, as she explains that another sporting event will take precedence over her pinning on a race number.
"My youngest daughter Caitlin, 10, is competing in a gymnastics competition and I really want to go and watch her compete."
Watch out for a Corset interview later this week on Cyclingnews.
Drapac turning Japanese
While Drapac are skipping the Battle and Toowoomba, they are currently in the midst of an Asian block of racing and doing well. Fresh off winning stages at the Tour d'Azerbaïdjan, the team headed to Japan for, the Tour of Japan and they started with a bang.
"It was nice to win the prologue I had been looking forward to it for quite a while now and they told me I set course record so that was good," Clarke told Cyclingnews.
Despite claiming the first two stages of the race, Drapac's Director of Performance, Keith Flory told Cyclingnews they are aiming for much more at the UCI 2.1 event.
"For Japan, our intention is to target the GC," Flory said. "We targeted the first two stages for sure, but they were actually one of our 'secondary' targets behind GC.
The team has stepped up the ranks to acquire a Pro-Continental licence for 2014, the only team to have done this year, and Clarke pins the success of the team and its growth on one man — team owner Michael Drapac.
"I'd say Michael Drapac, he has been supporting this team for 10 or so years now," Clarke said. "He has built it up to be a pro-conti team now and without his continued support it would not be running."
Read more about Drapac's recent string of success here