This is the first of a new Subaru National Road Series (NRS) series to feature on Cyclingnews to keep you up to date on what's happening domestically in Australian racing with a few of the highlights from the peloton.
These articles will round up what's happening in the NRS and provide insights into racing life on the Australian circuit for both
professional men and women.
Both the men and women have now raced two NRS events — the men' races were the Tour de Perth and the Jarvis Adelaide Tour while for the women, it was Adelaide Tour and the Mersey Valley Tour in Tasmania.
Next up for both will be the Battle on the Border from May 15-18 with five stages for the men and four for the women.
New Avanti Racing Team signing
Avanti have added 22-year-old Victorian Matthew Clark to its squad who previously rode for the Charter Mason Development Team in the NRS. Clark impressed the team on stage two at the Tour of Toowoomba last year when he finished second on the queen stage behind Nathan Earle who now riders for Team Sky.
"I'm excited to join the Avanti Racing Team, they are the strongest team in Australia and have developed so many guys it's incredible. The management is all about the riders and it really shows I just can't wait to get started," Clark said of his deal.
For team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston, the signing is all about seeing how far Clark can go and providing the opportunity to him to reach his potential. "We know he's got tremendous climbing ability and this is a big opportunity for him to take the next step." Christie-Johnston said. "If we can get Matt firing on all eight cylinders he will be very hard to stop."
Clark's first race for the team will be the Tour of Japan later this month where he will join new teammates Taylor Gunman, Jack Beckinsale, Brenton Jones, Luke Fetch and Sam Davis for the 2.1 race.
Drapac's Turkish delight
Australian Pro-Conti outfit Drapac ensured TV time at the Tour of Turkey regularly featuring in breakaway and for good measure also notched two top-ten finishes. For Henk Vogels, it was a good hit out for the team who will be busy racing in Azerbaijan, USA, Korea, Japan and of course, in Australia over the next few months.
"The week’s been great for the guys," said Vogels. "They've been aggressive; it’s been a big learning curve for Wouter [Wippert] here – we know he's got the stuff to compete, he just needs somewhat of a little bit more structured lead out which we didn't focus on this week. The guys were just a little bit short on the climbs but certainly really competitive so, I'm happy with the outcome of the week."
Ruth Corset claims Mersey Valley Tour overall to lead NRS individual standings
At the second women's NRS race of 2014, Ruth Corset was back to winning ways as she claimed stage two and held onto her lead to record her first overall victory of the year. The former Australian road race champion, who was the overall winner of the 2012 NRS, isn't limiting her racing schedule to the just the road this year with a handful of triathlons and mountain bike races also pencilled into her calendar for 2014.
U19 Mersey Valley Tour event
Running parallel to the women's Mersey Valley Tour event was the U19 edition, also run over three stages. Stage one was taken out by Michael Storer who won the Junior Oceania Cycling Championships ITT title in February. Stage two was won by Lucas Hamilton (Victoria Institute of Sport) who is eyeing a spot on the junior men's road world team in Spain later this year.
The third and final stage was won by exciting young talent, Jordan Stannus, who suffered a nasty crash at the end of 2013, knocking himself unconscious, splitting open his left eye brow & chin open.
For Jackson Carman from the Data #3 Symantec squad, it was an expensive start to race as he drove over $700 worth of helmets but his race improved as he animated the final climb on stage three and finished the day as the first Queenslander across the line and was the second fastest first year rider.
Successful return to racing for Lizzie Williams
Specialized Securitor's Lizzie Williams made a triumphant return to professional racing at the Mersey Valley claiming the third stage in a three-rider sprint. The former U19 Australian criterium champion was making her return to racing after a 10-year hiatus from the sport. Williams decided to focus on her university studies after claiming her national title and then turned her attentions to the Victorian Women's Football League (AFL) for a few seasons. She picked her bike up again last September in order to train for an Ironman triathlon and last month won the challenging Mt Baw Baw Classic in Victoria.
"I have been off the bike for a couple of weeks and have only done a couple of rides. So I was trying to hide that I wasn't feeling good during the Tour, but ten kilometres in today I knew I had good legs and that I was going to go on the climb," Williams said after her stage win in Tasmania.
Anna-Leeza Hull makes an impressive debut
Despite a crash from which she was initially suspected to have fractured her elbow, for 16-year-old Hull it was an impressive debut in Tasmania as she became the youngest person to podium at a NRS event.
She may just be a name to watch for the remainder of the 2014 NRS and quite the find for her Racing Kangaroos team but first she will need to recover from the broken collarbone she sustained on stage three of the race.