Many of Australia’s top road racers are entering the professional ranks via the Jayco-AIS-World Tour Academy team for under 23 riders. From last year’s line up sprinter Caleb Ewan is now riding for Orica-GreenEdge, while world under 23 time trial champion Campbell Flakemore is with BMC. And for next year, Orica-GreenEdge have already signed climbers Rob Power and Jack Haig and track endurance star-cum-road racer Alex Edmondson who will focus on the road after next yea's Olympics. Jayco-AIS-World Tour Academy began its European season last weekend in Italy with Edmondson winning their second race - the Grand Prix Rancilio on Sunday. Rupert Guinness spoke with team head sports director James Victor about the win and the team’s vision.
Rupert Guinness: It's a been a great season start for Jayco-AIS-World Tour Academy with Alex Edmondson winning Sunday's Grand Prix Rancilio …
James Victor: They [Edmondson and Miles Scotson] cleaned up really well. It was pretty much a flat open criterium that suited them and their finishing ability. It wasn't a big race in the grand scheme of things but first race, new bikes, trying to get settled and with the races pretty close to the team base [in Gavirate, Italy], it made sense to chase a couple of early races and help their confidence. There were other teams trying to put pressure on us to bring a break back that went out to four minutes; but there was plenty of time and the guys were always committed to putting Miles into a good position to have Alex come off his wheel. There is a lot more pressure and expectation for the next month … So for the guys to gel so well on Sunday, and to put a sprint train in place and come with a win … it's great for the team's confidence.
We now head some bigger races over Easter [Ed: Those races are: Sunday – Trofeo Piva, Monday – Giro del Belvedere, and Tuesday – Grand Prix Palio del Recioto), the Nations Cup – the classics - and then the Tour de Bretagne (April 25-May 1)
Oscar - in his first season - understands he has a lot to learn. He has never raced here as a junior. It is a big eye opener for him. After Saturday's race he said, 'This Italian racing is really sketchy' I said, 'Mate … get used to it because this is week-in, week-out. Everyone wants to take the next step and as soon as there is an opportunity, they are going to push and shove.' If he does everything right to learn as much as he can this year, he will be expected to be one of the leaders of the group next year. He knows what we want and has a good group to learn from. He will hit a purple patch this year and an opportunity to chase some results himself.
But purely for their development and the way they climb, we have chased Giro Valle d'Aosta (July 14-19) to get a start which is only a couple of weeks out from the Tour d'Alsace (July 28-August 3) and Tour de l'Avenir (August 23-30). They are three big stage races that suit the quality of the group this year. There are opportunities for Alex … we have a team time trial coming, some prologues, a couple of flatter stages and world championships [in Richmond, USA, September 21-15]. Alex and Miles are probably suited to the [worlds'] course.
Rupert Guinness is a sports writer on The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media)