The Racing Kangaroos National Road Series (NRS) team is heavily focused on developing young riders and in its short existence have continually produced talented riders who have moved on to bigger and better things at the elite level. Brodie Talbot is one of the riders to have risen through the ranks of the regional team before moving onto BugetForklifts for the 2014 season.
While this year has yet to see the team post top NRS results, the emphasis on developing riders remains the team's philosophy.
There is no women's team being fielded this season although Anna-Leeza Hull has been riding under the Racing Kangaroo's banner and has been one of the revelations of the women's series and will line up at the World Championships to represent Australia in the junior road race and time trial later this month.
Cyclingnews caught up with team manager Kurt Pollock to find out more about the team and how the 2014 season is going.
Cyclingnews: How was your preparation for the start of the 2014 NRS series and how are you finding the season so far?
This year has been our quietest season thus far. Obviously we had a really good season in 2013 but this year was back to basics. We lost Brodie Talbot [to BudgetForklifts] and a couple of other riders to bigger teams so we've only done one or two races so far this season.
CN: How do you decide on your team rosters? What processes do you go through in recruiting riders?
Our team is a development program and we believe that riders can develop over time with the right coaching, right advice and right instructions. A lot of the riders who are riding at NRS level have their own coaches but the aim of the Racing Kangaroos development program was to develop its own riders to obviously move onto the elite level.
CN: What is different about the team this year, compared to last?
The lack of the funding has made it extremely difficult to go away and do a lot of the races. One of the things that is getting harder and harder to do is secure sponsorship as the money isn't out there. With us being a regional based team, we just don't have the same ‘money bags' as some other places do
CN: What are the expectations of the team for the 2014 season?
Expectations were just to keep the team up and running and doing some races. We just want to get through this season and then push on for next year.
CN: What is your racing calendar?
We will do the National Capital Tour, Melbourne to Warrnambool and the Grafton to Inverell. We have been going to the Tour of Southland in New Zealand in recent years as well, so it's a possibility we'll go again this year.
Some of the guys do the state based races as well throughout the season.
CN: Is there a particular race the team is targeting this year?
I'd love to see the boys do well in the Grafton to Inverell having spent a fair bit of time in Inverell. I'd like to see the team push hard for a result in that race. It's a race that Dan Adcock loves [he was ninth last year] and it's a race that I believe suits him so we just need to get a few guys there that able to support him in the last 50-60km as that's when you need some help.
Obviously the bigger teams like BudgetForklifts and Avanti are able to control the race with their bigger numbers but last year we took four riders and all of them were top 15 so that was a good result for us.
CN: What are your thoughts on the NRS calendar in terms of length and location?
I think that geographically the NRS is fine but I believe that the standard of riders that are being allowed to ride needs to be looked at to improve the level of the series. If Cycling Australia want it to be an elite series, I think they need to look at that and perhaps they should be giving these teams support to get to races logistically.
A lot of the time location wise, the races are difficult to get to and you can't just fly in, get off the plane and start racing. You have to drive a couple of hundred kilometres to get to the start and finishes of the races so maybe that's something Cycling Australia want to look at in the future.
CN: Who has been a stand-out rider this season in your opinion?
Brenton Jones must be going alright as he's been very consistent and he's doing everything right at the moment. Plus he has a good team around him.
Having known Jesse Kerrison for several years, teach him to climb hills and he'll be another rider to watch as well.
Brodie Talbot is a very underestimated rider and very focused on what he does. Obviously he's not a sprinter but he's good over distance and a good climber. Obviously he picked up the Adelaide Tour in February and there are still a few races that might suit him down to the ground and he can move forward in this NRS series.
CN: Financially, what are the major challenges in racing the NRS?
Obviously the travel and the transport of the riders and equipment. Everyone has to tough it out with accommodation whether they are a NRS rider in Australia or over in Europe. They're not paid very well or paid at all, so I think Cycling Australia might want to look at doing some deals with airline companies and ease the burden on the cost of the transport and travel for the teams and riders
CN: Who are your main financial and equipment sponsors?
Skybridge Financial, who are based out of Inverell and have offices all over the north-coast of New South Wales. Jason Birch is the owner of SkyBridge and he's also a sponsor of the Grafton to Inverell race so it's good to see Jason putting something into the community and it's a bonus to have him support us and give us the opportunity to let Anna-Leeza Hull go on and represent her country.
Scody is our clothing company.
2014 Racing Kangaroos squad: Matthew Payne, Liam Maginess, Daniel Alcock, Aaron Watts, Alexanda Quirk, Jack Inwood, Tim Rush and Joshua Hagertty.
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