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. 


Michael Potter Takes the Overall Win at Tour De Tochigi

Thursday, 5 April 2018 posted by Sally Prowd


ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast’s Michael Potter has taken the biggest win of his career to date, winning the overall at Japan’s Tour de Tochigi.

It is the first UCI tour win for Potter and the ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast team, and comes in the first Asian calendar race for the team. Potter has held the lead since the first day of racing, and has won two out of three stages at the UCI 2.2 event.

“I’m just so happy to take the overall win and be able to repay the efforts of the whole team this week, they just did an amazing job and made my tour so easy and I want to thank them so much for their incredible work,” said Potter.

20 year old Potter finished inside the top twenty on Sunday’s final 148km from Nasu to Mooka, his 22 second lead ahead of the final day proving to be enough of a buffer to hold on to take the overall win.

“This team is very special, it is amazing to be a part of. We couldn’t be here doing what we love without the support of our families and our sponsors- especially the Sunshine Coast Council who we are over here representing.”

Director Ben Kersten said the team was thrilled to take such a big win in their first experience racing in Asia.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to our campaign here, this is a huge moment for our team,” said Kersten.

“We came with the aim of making a name for ourselves on the Asian circuit and we’ve certainly done that. This win will help us enormously to gain more race starts in Asia after this great performance by Michael and the team around him.”

“The guys rode incredibly well all tour. They were really on the ropes today with every other team trying to take the lead for themselves, but they rode together and sacrificed everything for their leader and the team.”

“Michael was a very gracious leader throughout, he has the best race head on him and a really big heart, and he has a very bright future in the sport.”

“We’re so privileged to be over here racing and representing the Sunshine Coast at this level and to have the guys step up and take a breakthrough win like this is very impressive.”


Potter scores first Asian win for ACA Ride Sunshine Coast

Friday, 23 March 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast's Michael Potter has achieved the biggest win of his career to date during the opening time trial at Japan's Tour of Tochigi.

The milestone victory also propelled his ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast team to its first win in Asian racing.

Potter took a clean sweep of the leader's jerseys during the opening day's riding on Friday and now leads the overall points classification and the under 23 classification.

He finished ahead of Japan's Nariyuki Masuda and South Korea's Sang-Hoon Park.

Meanwhile, ACA- Ride Sunshine Coast teammate Toby Orchard placed sixth and Freddy Ovett crossed in 18th.

It was a breakthrough win for Potter, in what is his first season transitioning from mountain biking to road racing.

He has been quick to already notch up several results for the season, including third place in the Australian Under 23 road race in Buninyong in January.

"Being a UCI 2.2 race, this is the biggest win of my career so far, my previous best was a podium at the 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic in January,” Potter said in an ACA press release.

He takes a nine second lead into stage two, a 105km road stage from Oyama City to Nikko City.

"Tomorrow (Saturday) will be all about trying to consolidate and hopefully taking some time bonuses in the intermediate sprints or the finish to try and increase my lead,” he said.

ACA Director Ben Kersten said the team had been buoyed by Potter's win in their first day racing on Asian soil.

"It was an impressive win today (Friday) by Michael. To win by nine seconds in a 7.5km time trial is huge,” Kersten said.

"We've got a strong team here and the guys are all healthy and riding well, and excited after the win. We're very happy to be racing here in Japan and looking forward to representing the Sunshine Coast well for the rest of the Tour of Tochigi.”

ACA geared for their first race in Asia

Tuesday, 20 March 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

Freddy Ovett is chasing a strong opening-day time-trial when he leads the ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast cycling team in their first race in Asia on Friday.

Ovett, who was 10th in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Victoria last month, is the new team's General Classification rider for the three-stage Tour de Tochigi in Japan.

The first stage is only 14.5km but one Ovett has earmarked as the important leg.

"The impetus for me is the time trial, I feel like I can do a really good time trial and that can set up the rest of the tour,” he said before the team flew out on Wednesday.

"It's a small time-trial, around 10 minutes.

"The second stage is 100km with a bit of a punchy finale and the last stage is pretty much a pancake flat 140 km.”

Ovett was a late signing to the Continental development team after riding with Under-23 squads in France and Spain.

He immediately had an impact with ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast, impressing with his climbing in the Victorian hills.

"The Herald Sun was our first race together and it went super well ... and just the dynamic with the team (was excellent),” he said.

"We have a super young team and with Benny Kersten and Matt Wilson on board (as directors) there's just a wealth of knowledge and you can't buy that.”

Ovett, whose father Steve was an Olympic gold medal-winning runner for Great Britain, grew up on the Coast and has returned after three years in Europe.

The 24-year-old said while he appreciated the experience, he was grateful to be back.

"Noosa was always home for me and it still is,” he said. "Going for rides down to Coolum, Marcoola, that just feels right for me, it feels like home.”

He returned to the Coast last week from a training stint in Girona, Spain, and faces a lot more international travel over the rest of the year.

"From June, July onwards we're going to have a lot of high-level racing across Asia, Japan, China and Korea,” Ovett said. "We're a super young team and everyone brings something different to the table and that's pretty special.”

He said he was looking forward to his first visit to Japan.

"It's probably the number one place in the world that I want to go to in terms of countries,” he said.

Ovett is currently studying a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration as part of the University of the Sunshine Coast's High Performance Student Athlete program.

He said the ACA's partnership with the University helped the cyclists to focus on both their career and the future.

"We train a lot, but there's always downtime to open a laptop, or do like some of the other local boys and go to lectures in person,” Ovett said.

"I think it's important to stimulate the mind to give you a rest from the bike and potentially set up something after cycling.”

He said Kersten and Wilson had encouraged the riders in the development team to take up studying.

"They know it's going to help us on the bike as well, to create well-rounded athletes,” he said.

The Tour de Tochigi begins in Oyama, north of Tokyo, on March 23.

The Australian Cycling Academy is a new development cycling team supported by major partner, the Sunshine Coast Council, and based out of the high performance precinct of the University of the Sunshine Coast.

  • *
  • Freddy Ovett


Age: 24

Lives: Noosa and Girona, Spain

Team: ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast

Former teams: AG2R's Chambéry CF (France), and Caja Rural (Spain)

History: He had a scholarship at the University of Oregon as a runner before an injury led him to take up cycling as rehab. He switched to cycling fulltime in 2014.

Family: His father Steve won gold for Great Britain in the 800m at the Moscow Olympics.


Story by Phillip Rodda, Sunshine Coast Daily

O'Brien gears up for top debut at Commonwealth Games

Sunday, 18 March 2018 posted by Sally Prowd

Australian Cycling Academy teenager Kelland O'Brien says preparations towards achieving "something special” on the Commonwealth Games stage are well on track.

The 19-year-old joined ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast teammate Sam Welsford to claim a dominant victory during a prominent madison event in Bendigo last week.

It was the first time he had won the race, after finishing second and third in his previous two attempts.

O'Brien and Welsford weren't the only ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast cyclists to perform well during the 200-lap event with Leigh Howard and Cameron Scott sprinting into second spot.

O'Brien, along with Welsford and Howard, are set to debut at the Gold Coast in April and the teenager said the event had formed an integral part of preparations.

"It (win) didn't really sink in straight away but it has now and I'm really proud of taking the win out at Bendigo this year,” O'Brien said.

"I think it's a really awesome race and you can bounce out of it really well.

"Given that it was three or four weeks before the Commonwealth Games it was perfect timing for us too and we can carry a little bit of confidence with how we rode together and how we're feeling so it was a really important race.”

With the Bendigo meet now behind him, and the Games fast-approaching, O'Brien said the Australian team were working hard to fine-tune fitness and skill levels.

"We're just head down, bum up and training really had,” he said.

O'Brien, who lives and trains in Adelaide, is certainly no stranger to international success, being the reigning world champion in team pursuit.

However, he said a debut on the Gold Coast would be an entirely different atmosphere.

"It took a while for it to sink in that I was going to go to a Commonwealth Games and especially with it being at home in Australia,” he said.

"I'm really excited and it's such an awesome opportunity getting to go there with such an awesome group of mates.

"We're a really good team and we're all looking forward to going together and doing something special.”


Story via Tom Threadinham, Sunshine Coast Daily. 

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