Sunshine Coast Junior Tour ’09 – By Chris Head
Four members of Bikeline Racing’s under 17 squad recently headed north to compete in the Sunshine Coast Junior Tour held over two days at circuits in Caloundra and Nambour. It catered for boys and girls from under 9 to under 17 and attracted over 100 entries from all over Queensland. Being just two weeks before the National Road Titles it attracted a top quality field. Our team was made up of Alex Head, Ben Southey, Jacob Mouatt and Raff Vainikka.
The tour was made up of four stages, a 6km individual time trial,a 56km road race,a 30 min+3lap criterium and a final 40km road race. The conditions were not the kindest with strong, hot northerly winds and temperatures in the 30’s. Not exactly what you need coming out of a Toowoomba winter.
Alex produced our fastest time in the time trial with 08:34 to take 10th place but all were very closely matched in their times. After heading back to the hotel for a cool down swim ,the crew were soon back for the road race held in the hottest part of the day. All were travelling well until the 40km mark where Alex and Jacob found the tempo and conditions too hot and dropped off the pace. Ben and Raff put in a terrific effort to stick with the main group. To add misery to all, the lap counter lost count and added another 7km lap to the total. Raff was our first home in 10th place in 1:41:15 narrowly ahead of Ben in 11th with the same time. Alex and Jacob soldiered on to finish 5 mins down. It was probably the toughest race any of them have ever encountered and a credit to all of them to make it through the day.
Day 2 saw no let up in conditions for the criterium with the strong wind persisting. All four boys rode together as a team in TT formation in order to off set the wind and share the work and cunningly not letting others join the queue. Towards the end they were able to make up significant ground on the break away leaders and all were given 10th place with the same time. The class of the top place getters was clearly evident on the short, fast 1km circuit.
We all then headed to Nambour for the final road race held within the show grounds, a great concept as you could see most of the circuit from the shade of the pavilions in the centre. At last we were in familiar territory with a steep hillclimb and fast descent, a profile very similar to our beloved Prince Henry Drive but they had 40 laps of it. The boys had a pre race talk and decided they had nothing to loose and were going to go for it for as long as they could hold out. Their body language on the start line was dramatically different and after a few laps in our group were clearly in control and the introduction of a hilly terrain brought us right back into contention. The standout of the field was Jacob Mouatt who was clearly the most attacking rider in the field with blistering surges of speed up the mountain. Our cheer squad of family members nervously counted down the laps until with only two laps to go and all four of our riders still in the lead group, Jacob let go in true Mouatt style and put 200 metres on the field in a blink. Unfortunately the peleton closed the gap with half a lap to go and crossed the line almost as one. The top 15 places of which we were all in were given identical times. All the boys rode a terrific race and came away full of confidence that they were able to go with the top contenders and match them on a testing circuit.
In the general classification Ben Southey was our top performer finishing in 11th place in 3:37:21 narrowly ahead of Raff Vainikka in 12th place only 21 sec behind over the four stages. Alex Head was in 14th place in 3:41:45 and Jacob Mouatt in 15th in 3:46:37. In what was a very classy field, which included some very talented cyclists these were great results. In only their first season of racing all our group proved to themselves that they are not far off the pace and the experience gained by competing against the best at this level was invaluable.
We now go into the State Team Time Trial on September 27 with a hint of confidence as while there are some very talented individuals, a class ahead of us, not many clubs can put up 4 consistent performers. New team member Brad Turrell comes into the group to make his racing debut and all have been training extremely hard under the guidance of some of our more experienced members and we wish them all the best in this event.