There is a common theme emerging amongst the Subaru National Road Series (NRS) of riders returning from European escapades to extensive domestic success. Pat Shaw (Huon-Genesys) returned from a long slog in the amateur ranks of Italy to win the NRS with the Virgin Blue - RBS Morgans team in 2010 and has since made a profession out of helping develop riders. Polygon Australia's Ben Grenda recently indicated similar intentions.
Jack Anderson (Budget Forklifts) is yet another rider who fits that process. After the completion of the third state at Gippsland Cyclingnews caught up with the Queenslander to talk about the Australian racing scene and what to expect from Budget Forklifts in the coming races.
Australia, to Italy, Sweden, Britain and now back to Australia is the path that Anderson has followed. Passport stamps and kilometres raced are two things that Anderson has an abundance of. Having raced against the best Europe has to offer and under the tutelage of former Paris Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, it's fair to say Anderson is a beacon of experience for his younger teammates. And it's this experience he wants to share.
"The racing is a completely different style [in Europe] but the experience overseas does help a lot. And that's something I want to help pass on to the other guys at Budget," said Anderson.
"My goal's not to go back overseas again, my dreams and goals have changed. I've done that now and if I can help the younger guys a bit then it's good because it's [overseas racing] such invaluable experience."
Now back in Brisbane, Anderson is working full time and his racing focus is very much for pleasure. He still sneaks out for 10-15 hours of training each week, but in the annals of cycling history, that is not even a drop in the ocean. It is, however, this very notion he wants to his teammates to understand, less is very much more.
"This week the longest stage is 90kms, that's two to two and a half hours, so that's something that I think the young guys should take on board, you don't need to go out and do 200km days"
Having said that, Anderson would like to see a transition to a more European style in the Australian calendar. It's all well and good to train 10 hours a week and do well at two hour long stages. But if the bigger picture is more Australians racing in Europe more often, longer stages are a necessity.
"I think the NRS is slowly going that way [towards longer stages]. You look at the Tour of Murray now, it's all becoming longer now and they're getting rid of the crits. If they want to match the European scene or become a stepping stone then they need to get out of that crit 'thing'," said Anderson.
"But it is happening and if you look at the tours we've done before this, at Toowoomba and Adelaide, you know most of them have had good long roadies and time trials, which is basically European racing."
Anderson believes the result of such a transition could mean increased professionalism of the domestic scene.
"I think Australia could one day have a pretty good continental circuit and most of these teams here could all be fully professional and paying their guys."
Anderson still loves to win and will take his chances when they come. But for the rest of the season, Anderson is just relaxing and going with the flow. Having won the opening stage of the Tour de Perth, and now within striking distance of the overall victory at Gippsland, perhaps this new focus is the secret to his success.
"I don't really have any [goals] to be honest! I'm just kind of floating about this year, I'm just enjoying it, I'm having fun!" said Anderson. "I think I'm going well because I'm relaxed. To be honest, I'm working full time in Brisbane this year so if I can get any time off to do a couple of them [NRS races] then great."
But Anderson confirms he doesn't have a strict personal focus for the remainder of the season, he's content just getting by with a little help for his friends.
"I won't be doing all the NRS races so I'm not chasing any overall NRS points. It's just good to be with a bunch of like minded guys that just want to have fun and win when we can," said Anderson. "I'm sure they've [Anderson's teammates] got goals for the upcoming races so maybe I can play a support role ... I say that all the time, if the chance comes my way of course I'll take it. We'll see what happens"
Budget is focusing on the here and the now and that means chasing stage wins in Gippsland.
"With any race we go to the priority is just to win the stage. And obviously if you win the stage, the GC generally comes with that," stated Anderson. "That's the focus we took into yesterday. Whether it's with Jesse [Kerrison] in the crits or, myself or Sam [Horgan] or anyone else in the road races. You get the stage win and the GC will sort itself out in time."
Having placed three riders in the final breakaway of stage three, Budget gained a crucial lead on the teams classification, but Anderson believes having the extra card to play in regards to individual GC is where their real advantage lies.
"From here we've got three guys right up there and it puts us in a good place as far as every other team is concerned because we have three cards to play. So for the GC that has put us in a good place," said Anderson.
And the bottom line for Anderson and Budget Forklifts? Well, it's all just a bit of fun.
"We have a nice team dynamic, we have a lot of fun. It's always fun when you're going well, of course, but we always try to have fun regardless."
And with a vicious double stage coming up today, there's plenty of fun to be had.
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