THEY were competing against some of the best emerging riders in Australia, but the four Bathurst cyclists who contested round two of the National Junior Track Series last weekend still managed to impress.
Competing at Sydney’s Dunc Gray Velodrome, Bathurst Cycling Club’s Luke Tuckwell, Eliza Bennett, Kalinda Robinson and Tyler Puzicha all represented the Western Region Academy of Sport.
They tackled a packed two-day program which involved a host of track cycling disciplines such as scratch races, enduros, derby sprints, tempos and keirins.
Tuckwell and Puzicha competed in their respective junior men’s and women’s 15s events, while Robinson and Bennett faced stiff opposition in the junior women 17 division.
Academy cycling coach Toireasa Gallagher was delighted with what she witnessed.
“It's been a fantastic start, some of them are only first year riders in their category as well, but they've just stepped straight in. All of them got good results over the weekend,” she said.
“These are the best junior riders in Australia, that's the whole point of the series, to expose them to the other states. You can get a bit complacent riding against the people you know all the time.
“It challenges them, you have to learn how to read races, not just rely on, well that person usually attacks at this point.
“It's a good series ... they love it, the kids think it's awesome.”
While missing the opening round in Melbourne, the WRAS riders picked up a host of top 10 placings in Sydney.
Bennett’s highlight was a scratch race win, while Robinson paired with fellow WRAS rider – Dubbo’s Haylee Fuller – to clinch victory in the madison by one point.
“Eliza, she won a scratch race on the Saturday night. She showed her pure sprint ability in that, an ability to time trial. She just took off with two laps to go and didn't look back,” Gallagher said.
“Kalinda, she rode really well all weekend. She teamed up with Haylee Fuller from Dubbo to win the madison, which was a display event, a demo event.
"It was the first time they've paired up to do it and they just took it on and showed everyone they needed to be there. They really stepped up to the challenge and took it on.”
Tuckwell’s best effort was a third placing in a scratch race, while Puzicha’s rides included a second in the derby sprint final.
“Luke, he was struggling a little bit with a cold, but as the day went on on Sunday, he kept getting closer to the front. He picked up a couple of spots in some events,” Gallagher said.
“Tyler, she went well in the keirin and derby - she's got some speed in her still. It's only early days in the season for her, but it's starting to all come together.”
Despite missing out on the opening round, both Puzicha and Robinson did well enough in Sydney to now rank 13th overall in their respective divisions.
The NJTS continues with with round three at Brisbane on December 2-3.