NRS Tour of the Great South Coast starts tomorrow

Tuesday, 14 August 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

The Tour of the Great South Coast begins tomorrow, the next event in the 2018 Australian National Road Series (NRS).

The Tour of the Great South Coast is a five-day, seven-stage tour that will cover 491.8 kilometres of stunning terrain across Victoria and South Australia.

The tour begins on Wednesday 15th August with a 36km criterium around the streets of Mt Gambier, SA, at 10.45am. This is followed by a second stage tomorrow afternoon, a 65km road race again through Mt Gambier.

The tour concludes on Sunday 19th August with a 48km criterium around Portland, Victoria.

ACA will field a six man squad, with several of our biggest names hitting the start line. The line up includes Cameron Scott, Sam Welsford, Kell O'Brien, Toby Orchard, Ashley Mackay and Elliot Schultz.

All eyes will be on Cam Scott, who is in top form coming off his recent win in the Tour of Qinghai Lake, China, just two weeks ago.

It is also the first NRS race back for Sam Welsford following his stunning Commonwealth Games campaign in April.

For race updates, follow ACA on Instagram and Twitter.

Live race results will also be available here.

Freddy Ovett to join BMC Racing Team as stagiaire

Thursday, 2 August 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast cyclist, Freddy Ovett, will join BMC Racing Team as a stagiaire for the remainder of the 2018 season.

The stagiaire offer is an opportunity of a lifetime for Ovett and comes off the back of a huge season with ACA, including a top 10 placing at the recent Tour of Qinghai Lake, China.

The son of Olympic 800-metre Gold medalist, Steve Ovett, Freddy was himself a long-distance runner on scholarship at Oregon State University, before making the transition to road cycling due to an injury four years ago. Ovett is based on the Sunshine Coast and attends the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Ovett, 24, will gain invaluable experience at the WorldTour level, BMC Racing Team General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

“We are pleased to welcome Freddy Ovett as stagiaire this year. The stagiaires will have a diverse race program with us and will be able to learn from some of the most experienced riders in the peloton, starting with the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah this month,” Ochowicz said.

“Freddy impressed this year at the Herald Sun Tour so we are excited to see what he can do in the upcoming races. We obviously have a strong connection to Australian riders so it is good to welcome some young talent to BMC Racing Team to race alongside some of Australia’s most well known riders; Rohan Dennis, Simon Gerrans, Richie Porte, and Miles Scotson.”

ACA Director, Ben Kersten, said creating opportunities like this one for Ovett are exactly what the academy is all about.

“Our goal is to give young riders opportunities through racing to be noticed by the best teams in the world, and that’s exactly what’s happened with Freddy and BMC,” he said.

“At the start of 2018, Freddy was left without a team and we signed him up. He raced the Herald Sun Tour with us in February, where he placed 10thoverall, racing against some of the world’s best professional teams, which really got him noticed on the big stage.”

“We couldn’t be happier for Freddy to have this opportunity. His hard work and perseverance have got him to this point, and we have no doubt he has what it takes to make that next step with BMC,” Kersten said.

For Ovett, joining BMC is nothing short of a dream come true.

“Joining BMC Racing Team for the last half of the year is quite simply a dream come true. It’s a team I’ve been very fond of since I started cycling and I’m very humbled to be given this opportunity by the team,” he said.

“It’s exciting to be a part of one of cycling’s biggest professional teams and I’m looking to learning as much as possible within this time period,” Ovett said.

The Australian Cycling Academy is a UCI registered under-23 cycling development team designed to deliver a pathway for young cyclists into the professional ranks. The Academy is based at the University of the Sunshine Coast and supported by principle partner the Sunshine Coast Council.


Cam Scott takes huge win in China at the Tour of Qinghai Lake

Friday, 27 July 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

Cameron Scott has taken the biggest road win of his young career winning stage 5 of the notoriously difficult UCI Tour of Qinghai Lake last night.

The 20-year old rider was impressive all day, taking the sprint finish at the end of an epic 235km stage at an altitude of over 3000m.

“At about 10km to go the bunch split,” Scott explained.

“I made the front and had a couple of teammates up there. It was pretty messy in the final, but we stayed out of trouble.”

While the finish was challenging, the 20-year-old Olympic hopeful admitted the entire race was formidable with a hors catégorie climb straight out of the launch in Longyangxia.

“The start was pretty tough as well. I managed to not waste too much energy and get up in the front bunch, but the length definitely plays in different parts of the race,” said Scott.

“Very happy,” he added. “It’s my first big tour stage win, so can’t ask for much more than that.”

Australian Cycling Academy’s sports director Stu Shaw claimed Scott was biding his time over the race’s initial mountain stages for the appropriate time to strike.

“We’re really excited. We know Cam Scott is a huge talent, and we really believed in him and backed him today. He took it easy the last two days in the hills, and we know he’s a serious talent and has really flown under the radar,” Shaw said.

“For such a young rider this goes a long way. A huge win.”

According to Shaw, the role of fellow Australian track star and former WorldTour rider Leigh Howard is invaluable in Scott’s development.

“Having Leigh Howard there, who is like a brother to Cam, you haven’t got anyone better to guide him through,” explained Shaw.

“Cam’s on the track program, but we know he can seriously climb, he can do it all. He can climb, he can time trial, he’s one of the best pursuiters in the world as well.”

The Tour of Qinghai Lake is a 13 stage 2.HC UCI tour around the Qinghai region of China, on the Chinese Tibetan Plateau. It comprises 1841km of racing at an average altitude of 3000m, peaking at 4120m.

It’s the biggest test so far for the young ACA development team, with the UCI race renowned as one of the toughest in the world.

Twenty two Pro Continental and Continental teams, including outfits from Europe and Asia, are competing in the tour.

The ACA have taken a 7-man team to the race, with Scott and Howard being joined by Freddy Ovett, Michael Potter, Toby Orchard, Ashley Mackay and Jono Noble.

The race continues with a final mountain stage today, before the 13thand final stage in Lanzhou on Saturday 4 August 2018.

The Australian Cycling Academy is a UCI registered under-23 cycling development team based at the University of the Sunshine Coast and supported by principle partner the Sunshine Coast Council.

Our toughest race of the year is here - the Tour of Qinghai Lake, China

Monday, 23 July 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

Our toughest race of the year in now underway, with the first stage of the thirteen day Tour of Qinghai Lake beginning yesterday.


It’s the biggest test so far for the young ACA team, with the UCI race renowned as one of the toughest in the world.


Known as the jewel of the Asian cycling tour around the Qinghai region on the Chinese Tibetan Plateau, the event comprises 13 stages and 1841km of racing and an average altitude of 3000m, peaking at 4120m.

“It’s our biggest event of the year in terms of difficulty and length - it’s known as the fourth grand tour,” said ACA co-founder Ben Kersten.

ACA is fielding a seven-man team for the event, with Leigh Howard, Freddy Ovett, Cameron Scott, Michael Potter, Jono Noble, Toby Orchard and Ashleigh Mackay all making the team.

The riders have been in preparations for weeks, with the goal of readying their bodies for the extreme stress such altitudes produce.

Potter, Scott and Ashley Mackay have been supplementing their road training with the altitude acclimation in Australia to help avoid the serious fatigue and racing heart rate that can end a stage prematurely.

“We arrived in China a week before the start of the race to stabilize,” Kersten said.

“Before leaving for China, the guys who were in Australia were sleeping in altitude tents, or using hypoxic masks or training chambers.”

The team's two top hopes for success across the 12-stage event are Freddy Ovett and Leigh Howard, a multiple world record holder and Olympic and recent Commonwealth gold medalist.

Both riders, who have bases in Europe, have been training in the Pyrenees mountains in Andorra in the lead up to the race, to adjust to the lung-sapping conditions expected in China.

Howard, who has ridden five grand tours including the Tour de France, will lead the team during the grueling event.

“With the team we have we’ll be super happy with a stage podium from Leigh or Freddy, but we also wouldn’t be surprised to see results from Potter and Cam Scott,” Kersten said.

“The rest of the squad will be doing a lot of learning and focusing on supporting our team leaders and surviving through the end of the race.”

The young team will rely heavily on the experience of veteran Howard, who has eight professional victories and has ridden for World Tour teams Orica Greened, IAM Cycling and HTC Columbia.

Twenty two Pro Continental and Continental teams, including outfits from Europe and Asia, will compete in the event.

Stage two of the UCI 2.HC road race gets underway today, and includes eight laps of the 14.4km Xining City Circuit.

Live streaming for the event runs through till the conclusion of the race on Saturday 28th July 2018. Follow this link to watch it live.


Round one of NRS kicks off tomorrow with the Grafton to Inverell Classic

Friday, 11 May 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

The 2018 Cycling Australia National Road Series (NRS) gets underway tomorrow with the country’s toughest one-day race, the David Reid Homes Grafton to Inverell (G2I) Cycling Classic.

The 58th edition of the Classic will take place on Saturday 12 May and will guide the men’s peloton through a 228-kilometre trek across Northern New South Wales, highlighted by 3383 metres of punishing climbing.

We have a five riders taking to the startline for the race, our first since the Commonwealth Games last month, with Michael Potter, Cameron Scott, Aidan Kampers, Ashley Mackay and Amarni Drake all lining up.

Potter and Scott are ones to watch, with both in strong form and coming off recent wins. Potter took out the overall classification in the Tour de Tochigi in Japan in April, along with the NSW Hillclimb Championship this month, while Scott, the current National U23 Criterium Champion, won the Bathurst Classic Criterium last weekend.

The race will be streamed live via the National Road SeriesFacebook & Cycling Australia YouTube channels,the coverage will begin with the official G2I pre-race show from 7 to 730am and feature rider interviews and the race start in Grafton.

The live stream will then pick up for the final hour of the race (estimated from midday onwards) and capture the exciting run to the finish into Inverell (coverage to resume as the peloton hits the Griffin/Grindal Hill).

The post race-show will feature race highlights, race wrap up, rider interviews and the official presentations, with an extensive highlights package loaded to the NRS channels later in the day.

You can also follow live updates via our Twitter and Instagram pages, or the official race channels below:

Follow the #G2I18 / #NRS18 - @Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Welsford Sets Sights on Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Thursday, 12 April 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

Newly-crowned Commonwealth Games scratch racing gold medallist Sam Welsford has his sights on Tokyo 2020 and says he'd relish the opportunity to compete in the madison in its return to the Olympics.

The 22-year-old enjoyed a stunning campaign at the Gold Coast.

He was part of Australia's world-record breaking team pursuit squad on Thursday, before producing a blistering ride in the 15km race on Saturday.

Welsford, a member of the Australian Cycling Academy - Ride Sunshine Coast team, flashed home to finish ahead of New Zealand's Campbell Stewart and England's Chris Latham.

It had appeared as though Englishman Ethan Hayter had stolen a race-winning gap on the bunch but he was mowed down in the final lap.

"I just put my head down. I knew I had to work pretty hard about two laps out to try and get that guy back for the finish and lucky enough I got him in the last half lap,” Welsford said.

Australia's Cameron Meyer and ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast's Leigh Howard helped make it an up-tempo race for Welsford to capitalise on.

He's aiming for big things at the Olympics.

"Tokyo's the end goal and I really want to hope to get there and try and go one better from Rio,” he said.

He was part of Australia's silver-medal winning team pursuit squad there.

"To come second by 0.6 of a second is pretty heartbreaking but it's also really motivating for myself and all the guys want it just as bad so each training session from Rio has been all about moving forward and trying to get close to that gold medal at the Olympics,” he said.

But that's not the only event on his radar in Japan.

"I've had a bit of an omnium focus for a bit throughout my racing but who knows?” he said.

"It would be awesome to do the madison at the Olympics...

"But the team pursuit will be our (main) focus and the bunch racing will be our second focus.”

The madison, a relay event for two riders per team, has not featured at an Olympics since Beijing in 2008.

Meyer and Callum Scotson were Australia's representatives in the madison at the world championships last year, bagging silver.

Welsford combined with Jordan Kerby to claim second place at the national championships last year, behind Rohan Wight and Alex Porter.


Story via Steele Taylor - Sunshine Coast Daily

Four Gold Medals and One World Record for ACA Riders at Commonwealth Games

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast riders have finished a highly successful Commonwealth Games campaign, with two gold medal wins and a new world record among the best results.

The Games started with a bang for the team, when all three ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast riders were selected to ride the final of the team pursuit on the opening night. Sam Welsford, Leigh Howard and Kelland O’Brien lined up with fellow Australian team member Alex Porter to take the gold medal and set a new world record of 3:49.804.

It was the first time a team pursuit has gone under the 3 minute 50 barrier in the event, and the first time an Australian pursuit team has held the world record since 2004.

Sam Welsford followed up the disappointment of narrowly missing the individual pursuit medal rounds with a dramatic win in the 15km scratch race, with ACA team mate Leigh Howard and Australian teammate Cam Meyer displaying an impressive team performance to help Welsford to the win. Welsford came from behind on the final lap of the event to overtake English rider Ethan Heyter who led by more than half a lap, in one of the most thrilling race finishes seen at the Games.

After the scratch race, Welsford was elated with the win and the team’s performance at the Games.

“I’m over the moon, my second gold medal and this race is such a lottery, 60 laps and I was lucky enough to catch him on the last lap,” said Welsford.

Mayor Mark Jamieson congratulated the ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast cyclists on their tremendous performance on the track at the Anna Meares Velodrome.

“From night one, we have seen the members of our newest sporting team achieving at a very high level which continues on the excellent performances ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast has achieved since it was formed just a few months ago.”

“The team is off to a fantastic start,” Jamieson said.

“The Sunshine Coast is proud to have such great ambassadors for our region and the sport of cycling and we look forward to watching them progress throughout 2018.”

University of the Sunshine Coast Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill also congratulated the ACA riders on their impressive performance at the Games.

Professor Hill said it was gratifying to see how well ACA riders have competed since the academy was established at USC’s sporting precinct late last year, and he wished them further success into the future.


Welsford Takes Dramatic Scratch Race Win and Second Gold Medal

Tuesday, 10 April 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

Sam Welsford has taken his second gold medal of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, with a thrilling win in the 15km Scratch Race.

Welsford came from behind to overtake English rider Ethan Hayter in the closing metres of the finish straight. Hayter had maintained a half-lap lead for the second half of the race.

In a display of true teamwork, Welsford’s Australian team mates Cam Meyer and fellow ACA rider Leigh Howard rode a textbook race to control the constant attacks and set up the finish for Welsford.

“It was such a hard race. From the start, there were so many moves and I had to be patient, go with a few,” said Welsford.

“My teammates were amazing, Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard, hats off to them. They were in every move. They were looking after me all race. Those guys, just credit to the team.”

“I think the whole team is so tight knit and it’s showing in the results this week. I’m over the moon, my second gold for the comp. This race is such a lottery. 60 laps and anyone can get away in the last couple of laps. I was lucky enough I caught him the last lap.”

Welsford was also part of the four man team that won the team pursuit on the opening night of the Games, setting a new World Record in the process. The record was the first ever recorded under the elusive 3:50 barrier. Three of the four riders in the final were from ACA Ride Sunshine Coast, with Welsford's ACA teammates Kelland O'Brien and Leigh Howard also in the gold medal winning team. 

Commonwealth Games gold and world record for Howard, Welsford & O'Brien in team pursuit

Friday, 6 April 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast riders made up three quarters of the four-man team pursuit squad that won gold and set a new world record on the opening night of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

The team posted the fastest team pursuit time in history, breaking the elusive 3 minute 50 second barrier to beat England in the final.

ACA riders Kelland O’Brien, Leigh Howard and Sam Welsford joined Alex Porter in the evening final, to post the winning time of 3:49.804. It was nearly half a second faster than the previous world record, set by Great Britain at the Rio Olympics.

It is the first time an Australian men’s team has held the coveted team pursuit world record since 2004.

Howard and Welsford also rode the earlier qualifying round, where the Australian team set a new Commonwealth Games record. 19 year-old O’Brien was called up to replace local Queensland rider Jordan Kerby in the final.

“This afternoon we re-evaluated as a team and I got the call up, so I’m just so happy to be a part of this,” said O’Brien.

“We didn’t find out we were going to pull off the world record until we crossed the finish line. It’s unbelievable, it definitely hasn’t sunk in yet and I’m just so happy to pull it off.”

“The depth in Australian cycling is amazing, the culture is amazing and I’m just so proud to be a part of the team. Hopefully in the next few years we can step up again (towards Tokyo) and show the world what our country is all about.”

The University of the Sunshine Coast-based team is in their first year of competition, and have been bolstered by the results of the track riders who also make up part of the Australian track cycling team.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson praised the riders’ performance in the local Games.

“The congratulations of all of us here on the Sunshine Coast go to our new gold medalists and world record holders,” said Jamieson.

“Winning Commonwealth gold and breaking records along the way is a huge achievement and we’re very proud that they’re enjoying this success as part of the Australian Cycling Academy-Ride Sunshine Coast team.”

“Our riders are setting incredibly high standards and are already seeing the huge benefits of being part of this new team based right here in our own region. I’m sure their performance tonight will inspire young cyclists across the country.”

Team Director Ben Kersten said the result was a huge boost for the team and its young riders.

“This was an incredible ride and a huge result from our three track superstars on the world stage,” said Kersten.

“The team pursuit is the blue ribbon event of track cycling, and to even get a start in the team is a huge achievement. The gold medal and world record is a truly fantastic result for these riders.”

“Our team and results like this wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors, so we want to thank the Sunshine Coast Council, the University of the Sunshine Coast and all of our sponsors for their continued support of our team and athletes.”

ACA riders in pursuit of Gold on day one of Games

Thursday, 5 April 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

Story via Steele Taylor, Sunshine Coast Daily

A trio of riders from the Sunshine Coast-based Australian Cycling Academy are primed to deliver for Australia in today's team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games, according to former track star Ben Kersten.

He expects Sam Welsford, Leigh Howard and Kelland O'Brien to play their part in the 4000m event at the Anna Meares Velodrome, with qualifying in the afternoon and finals at night.

The managing director of ACA and 2006 kilo gold medallist said they're ready to fly.

"They went to New Zealand to race World Cup earlier this year and set a blistering time (with the team),” he said.

"Leigh Howard, coming from the road (racing scene) back to the track, we were sort of wondering how the speed was in his legs after years away but he's done amazing times in the team pursuit so he's shown he's still got it.”

They've also been in the thick of the action in races across the country, impressing in scratch races, madison and point score races.

"They're in fantastic form,” Kersten said.

Officials are yet to officially announce who among the seven-strong Australian men's squad will compete in four-man qualifying and finals but Kersten believed the ACA riders would see some time on track.

"There's a very high chance all three will be racing,” he said

"They're in very good form and they've done the times this year to put them in that starting squad.”

Howard, 28, has age on his side but even Welsford, 22, and O'Brien, 19, have some experience.

Kersten expected the pair to be calm, having already competed at international meets.

The duo were part of Australia's world championship-winning team pursuit squad in Hong Kong last year.

The Commonwealth Games cycling program gets underway on day one of the Games on Thursday 5th April 2018, with all three ACA riders in the teams pursuit. 


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