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Parker primed for final junior worlds

Australian youngster Dale Parker wants to go out on top at his final UCI Junior Road World Championships this week. Parker, the current U19 Australian time trial champion, will contest today's 28.5km time trial event in Offida, Italy, alongside Jay McCarthy, David Edwards and Calvin Watson.

"I have been up in Ascoli for two days, riding the course and adjusting to the heat. I'm feeling strong," he told Cyclingnews on the eve of the time trial.

"I had a hit-out this morning on the time trial course; it's a hard course with some solid climbs and fast sections that I am hoping my track preparation will help with - I am getting use to the heat," he said.

"I'm a bit nervous and anxious to get on with the action," continued Parker. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It will be my last ever race on the road as an Under 19 so I want to enjoy every minute of it and not leave anything out there when I cross that finish line. I am ready."

It's the crescendo of what has been a breakout season thus far for the 18-year-old South Australian, who earlier this year set a new junior world record in the individual pursuit - on his home track in Adelaide, Australia - before taking out the junior national time trial title on the road.

Parker will also contest the UCI Junior Track World Championships, which take place in Montichiari, Italy from August 11. He finished sixth in the individual pursuit and second in the team pursuit at last year's track event, held in Moscow, Russia.

Countryman Michael Hepburn won the individual pursuit at those titles and the Queenslander is role model for Parker. Having ridden to prominence in the junior ranks he's now making his way in the European Under 23 ranks with the Jayco-Skins outfit that showcases the best in young Australian cycling talent.

Parker will enter the ranks of that squad next season and is relishing the challenge of the upcoming track worlds plus his impending emergence on the espoirs scene in Europe.

"Next year's going to be a big step up for me - having dominated the junior ranks, next year I want to prove to the world that I can take that next step and take on guys like Jack [Bobridge], Rohan [Dennis] and Heppy [Michael Hepburn]," said Parker.

"I think Heppy's proven that [progression] well, with a rainbow jersey; I look up to him with his world records and I was a first year [under 19 rider] in the same team as him last year [in Moscow]. I was in the team pursuit with him and this year I wanted to break world records like him, which I've done."

It's all part of a bigger plan for Parker, who holds the lofty ambition to one day ride the grand tours, much like fellow South Australians Stuart O'Grady, Jack Bobridge and Luke Roberts, all of whom have track backgrounds and have forged successful careers in Europe.

"When I was 10 years old I set the goal of riding the Tour de France - watching Lance on TV and the like - then you slowly start to realise that it's possible. If you want to do something the sky's the limit, you're the only one holding yourself back," he explained.

Click here to see a full schedule, maps and start list for the 2010 UCI Junior Road World Championships.

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