Last week Mobius Future Racing headed down to Geelong, Victoria to tackle a really important event for the team, Junior Nationals. As a team, we’ve had a strong focus on JM19 riders, it’s an area we love to be involved in and reminds us of the rich community our sport has. It’s always a pleasure to meet parents, young riders and get a chance to watch some aggressive racing. DS Tom Petty gives us an insight into the weekend.
Mobius were bringing 3 riders to the race, Tyler Lindorff, Craig Wiggins and Mitch Wright, three very capable riders I was confident could win. Having recently added Ty and Craig to the team, it presented a few challenges, you can’t build a ‘team’ overnight, and we still had some issues to work out as a unit. Cycling is an unusual sport like that, imagine this, you’ve worked all year towards a goal of trying to make junior worlds, and ahead of the two main events, you’re kind of shuffled into a team, and expected to adjust your routine, race plan and add extra commitments. Riding for a bigger team is obviously an opportunity, but it isn’t without it’s challenges off the bike.
Our first race together was Mersey Valley in Tasmania, a 3 day race where we consistently put ourselves in the position to win, with Craig winning the final stage. We made a tactical error on Stage 2 due to some poor communication, and it cost us a chance of victory. Something we needed to not let happen in such an important one day race like Nationals.
We’d prepared a lot for Nationals, specific strava analysis, course recon and some additional equipment. We’ve started using these special Zero Friction Cycling chains that are faster, cleaner and even longer lasting, but it was predominantly the power saving we were after this event. We really wanted to turn up with as much preparation as possible, we’d really worked hard before the event, to ensure we had the best chance in the race and I think it made a real difference.
The Time Trial
Friday was a 20km TT near the You Yangs National Park, it was a difficult circuit that rewarded great handling skills, climbing, false flats and sharp turns. It started well for us with Craig and Tyler both well prepared and went and rode really well, with Tyler showing great promise to finish 10th. Mitch’s day didn’t start too well, we had new TT bars on the Focus, which we didn’t manage to get UCI checked as there was no Jig at Mersey Valley, and Mitch had made some extra adjustments. We took the bike to get pre-checked but it wasn’t UCI legal, I ended up having to move the saddle back a few mm, the extensions back and rotate the bars until the tip of the shifter fell within the 10cm rule, no small changes, and a total pain in the arse. Of course for Mitch, it was less than ideal, but it was better than finding out later and meant he could start his warm up and prepare. To Mitch’s credit, he kept his composure, despite having trained in a totally different position. Something that should have been sorted months ago.
Mitch headed out on the course, and to everyones surprise, posted the fastest time with 10kms to go, eventually racing home into 3rd place after a great ride by VIS rider Thomas Jones, who was 14 seconds faster. A good start to the campaign, but I was really starting to get a better understanding of the guys, and impressed by the temperament they showed.
The Road Race
Saturday was the main event, but like anything, it’s often what happens the days before that set the tone. The road bikes were all pre prepared two days before, everything was organised but I was definitely feeling nervous. I had a strong feeling of how the race would unfold, i was confident we had the riders capable of winning, but i knew we really needed to come together as a team on the road and keep our composure in order to win.
The night before, we got together for a “quick” meeting, that i somehow let spill over into taking over an hour, who knew i could talk so much… My focus was detailed, and i was cautious of making it too complex, but i wanted to be comprehensive too. We discussed each stage of the race and the likely scenarios, we discussed how best to win the event from each scenario and we focused on things we had and hadn’t done well previously.
We had four key things, communication, position, nutrition and team work. With three capable riders, the plan was to ensure that no matter what scenario we faced, we would be continually working to improve it, and during the race, we faced A LOT of those scenarios.
Each rider had a role, Tyler was looking to take up the work early, Mitch was the all rounder and Craig new he could climb with the best then outsprint the others. We got off to a BAD start. Tyler was going all out following moves and Mitch was helping Tyler cover too, but somehow after 30kms of racing, a really strong group of 6 went away, which put us on the back foot. To compound things, later another 2 riders slipped away and bridged to the break. We were well behind here and we knew it, a plan was made on the road to get back to the front of the race, and executed exceptionally well.
At the start of the final lap, with 50kms to go, Tyler and Mitch picked up the pace into the base of the climb, a slight crosswind strung the bunch out on the flat leading in, and Mitch launched at the base of the climb taking a strong Liam Edwards with him. A 7 minute climbing effort and some work over the crest, they caught the breakaway. Back on track!
Craig took over excellently here and helped disrupt the peloton trying to chase, before the hopes died and the break gap drifted out. Knowing now we had Mitch who was fresher than his breakaway riders at the front, and Ty and Craig waiting if it came back, was a lot more reassuring for me in the car! In the car, Andrew Jackson was doing a fantastic job, enabling me to keep track of the race and focus on what was happening, it was really a great help having his experience there.
As the race progressed, we knew the break would stick, the gap out to 2m30 with some tired riders falling out of the front group, it left just 5 riders. With 10kms to go, Mitch attacked on one of the remaining climbs, going clear and time trialling home, able to look around at 1km to go and appreciate what was happening. Back in the car, we’d missed a bit of radio coms (I may have accidentally pulled the antenna out) I was getting a little flustered at the lack of race updates considering the situation, only to realise it was all my fault, whoops! Radio fixed, we were refreshing the live results, unsure if Mitch was going to stay away, when we saw he’d won, it was just the best feeling, all that hard work, not just from Mitch, but the support of his Dad and Mum too, to be able to help be a part of that victory was really cool, and one i wont forget!
After a nice Mexican dinner out to celebrate everyone’s efforts, and a few bike tweaks, we were ready to enjoy the Geelong waterfront and a very difficult crit circuit. All three riders qualified routinely for the final, with the sole aim to get Craig the win. We knew the course, we knew you needed to be 1st to 3rd wheel out of the uphill hairpin 200m before the line, we knew the wind would make things very difficult and we certainly knew we were tired from yesterdays effort!
As expected Tom Jones (VIS) went on the early attack, taking two other riders with him, who he later left behind. Back in the bunch, we’d set a plan to try and neutralise the attacks, keep things in check and lead out Craig at the end. Yesterdays win was impressive, but the way Mitch and Tyler rode in the crit as a team was all class. Time and time again they got yelled at on the sideline, to take up the chase and control the gap, time and time again people were attacking over the top of them and disrupting the chase. I saw the gap stabilising and started think we’d stuffed it up.
The big head wind on the straight into the final corner meant a mammoth effort, but Mitch and Ty kept at it, eventually overhauling a 40 second gap to Tom. Tyler really kept the pace on, almost doing 4 laps by himself, before Mitch did the final effort to position Craig. Just before the final corner, an attack meant Craig really had to fight for the position, before getting the right gear to launch the sprint. We almost capped it off, but all credit to Bryce and Jensen for managing to take 1st and 2nd, with Craig taking 3rd.
A lot of great experiences to take from the racing, a big thank you to Cycling Australia, their staff, volunteers and commisssaires for putting on the event. Also to Stephen Harman, for capturing the event so well.
TT – Mitch Wright 3rd
RR – Mitch Wright 1st
Crit – Craig Wiggins 3rd