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Jordan Kerby (Christina Watches-Onfone) goes on the attack in the Australian U23 road race
UniSA National Team ride caps off "best month of my career"
Less than two months ago Jordan Kerby had started his build up for what promised to be a huge year. He had signed for the Danish-registered Christina Watches-Onfone off the back of some solid results on the Asia Tour circuit in late 2012 and with the New Year having just begun Kerby was crowned Australian Under-23 Road Champion. Just days after his biggest victory to date the 20-year-old can lay claim to another achievement - receiving a spot in the the UniSA National Team for the Santos Tour Down Under.
Kerby joins the final three riders named for the UniSA team who performed solidly throughout the opening weeks of the year. Calvin Watson (Team Hopplà Wega Truck) who won the overall at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac Professional Cycling) and Kerby all earned their spots with standout rides in January. The first three; Anthony Giacoppo (Huon-Genesys Wealth Advisers), Zakkari Dempster (NetApp-Endura), Damien Howson (SASI) and Adam Phelan (Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy) had already been pre-selected prior to the start of the season.
Kerby's path to Down Under has been far from easy. The last couple of years have been filled with ups and downs but a win in the Prologue at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and victory along the streets of Buninyong in the under-23 road race had Kerby content with his start to the season. He was ready to fly to Garda, Italy for his new team's first training camp until he was given an opportunity "you don't pass up".
"It [Tour Down Under] wasn't on my radar at all, I had plans and booked my flights to Europe," Kerby told Cyclingnews.
Those plans will now be pushed back by a few days as Kerby adjusts his schedule for the opening round of the WorldTour. His performances in January gave selectors a powerful reason to take notice of the young Queenslander who admitted to being overlooked for the under-23 National Team in the past.
His ride at Tour Down Under is confirmation that Kerby is on the right track to achieving his goals of becoming a professional cyclist.
"I'm trying to go places and this is just one of the first steps to getting there," said Kerby on winning the under-23 Australian road title.
"They selected me basically from Road Nationals and Sun Tour, both of them, not just one of them. It was my results from the first week of January. They've put their faith in me and given me a spot," he told Cyclingnews.
"I can't really believe all the good things that have happened in January. It's probably the best month of my cycling career to date and it's all happened at the start of the year."
It hasn't been smooth road for Kerby who said earning the green and gold jersey was the result of five years of very hard work. Kerby explained how he self-funded much of his 2012 season so he could get enough race days in his legs but he isn't bitter about the experience.
"Last year I had a lot of setbacks. I didn't get selected for the Tour of Thailand with the National Team so I funded my own way there," he said.
"Basically, everything I've done I've had to work for and I think it's made me a better rider for it. I haven't had any free rides," added Kerby.
With Tour Down Under a reality, Kerby is even more excited about his 2013 season. His role at the WorldTour race is yet to be discussed but Kerby said he would love to show himself in the breakaway on at least one of the stages while also helping his quicker teammates Bernard Sulzberger and Anthony Giacoppo in the sprints.
"I'd love to get in the breakaway one day, and to have a good ride. I haven't spoken to anyone about the details yet but I'm assuming I'll be helping some of the quicker guys like [Anthony] Giacoppo and Bernie [Sulzberger] in the sprints."
"I'd really like to just play my role in the team, in whatever way."
Following the conclusion of Tour Down Under, Kerby will fly to Italy and join his teammates for the pre-arranged camp. There's plenty of objectives to aim for throughout the season but the primary one is fairly simple.
"As long as I get the rides at the tours and the racing in my legs so I can get stronger as a bike rider then I'm happy.
"I can't wait to get over there and just enjoy the lifestyle, train hard, race my bike. It's what I want to do with my life."