• IsoWhey Swiss Wellness rider Cameron Bayly. (Kathryn Watt - Watt Shotz Photography)Source: Kathryn Watt - Watt Shotz Photography
Cameron Bayly is the nearly man of the Australian peloton. Regularly touted as a name to watch and one that his peers have a healthy respect for, it seems almost inappropriate that his talents have never seen him called up to grace the roads alongside the top echelon.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
6 Jan 2017 - 11:27 AM  UPDATED 6 Jan 2017 - 11:47 AM

The 26 year old jumped to the fore at the recent Bay Criteriums, his lone attack on the first stage saw him collect a lot of praise and he even managed fourth in the sprint despite being caught by the peloton. He went on to claim the intermediate sprint jersey for his efforts and was clearly harbouring some good form.

“It’s an awesome way to start the season off, I ended last season (racing with Attaque Team Gusto) with a bit of bad luck so it’s nice to start the season on a high. The atmosphere within the team is good, it has that winning attitude. It’s good to be part of the set-up and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year.”

‘Bad luck’ is an understatement for Bayly, crashing out of the lead at the Tour of Taihu Lake in early November, within sight of a breakthrough victory in Asian racing. Bayly was third in the opening prologue before moving into the leader’s jersey with a victory on Stage 3, but the Stage 7 crash saw the win slip from his grasp and he limped home to finish 18th overall. Bayly was visibly distraught after the race but he has clearly bounced back from the disappointment to take some strong form into the Australian summer.

“I think at the end of the day even though I had a bit of bad luck, crashed out and lost the whole chance at winning the Tour, at least I know that it wasn’t my legs that let me down. It was just a bad incident. Coming out of that I know that I can mix it up at the top level and still win bike races. Overall, it wasn’t a bad thing and I came out of it with a lot of positives.”

Bayly was the King of the Mountains winner at the 2015 Herald Sun Tour and is Mr. Consistent in Asia, racking up top ten overall finishes and high positions on stages. IsoWhey Swiss Wellness are his new team, a natural choice for riders looking to go to the World Tour, with 12 graduates of the squad in its long history getting contracts at the highest level. Despite the strong resume, he acknowledges that he needs that headline result with his new team to really put his name in front of the big players.

“Definitely and that’s one reason I chose to ride with IsoWhey Swiss Wellness this year, because there is that proven pathway. I feel that I haven’t been able to show my true potential yet and this is a team that can really get the best out of you. I’m really looking forward to riding with the team and seeing what we can do this year.”

IsoWhey Swiss Wellness sports director and co-owner Andrew Christie-Johnston has a lot of respect for Bayly and was very keen to see how he would perform in the upcoming season.

“I’ve been trying to get Cam onto my team for maybe three or four years now,” said Christie-Johnston. “For one reason or another it’s never worked but I’m really excited to be working with him and hopefully we can match his talents up with some decent races and really throw everything at him making that next step.”

The first and one of the biggest opportunities for Bayly to show his ability on a big stage is the Australian summer, which represents the best chance for local riders to upstage the big name professionals in race like the nationals, Jayco Herald Sun Tour and even a race like the Tour Down Under where he could be selected as part of the UniSA team.

“It’s been a really different build this year. It was a long season without a break, from that racing in China which finished in December, I’ve just been trying to maintain my form and see how I go. It’s a very different approach and I just hope it works out for me. At the end of the day I’m in a good mental state, I love racing my bike and I’ll give it the best I can come the nationals road race.”

Whilst he will go into the race as an outside chance for the win, it would be no surprise to see Bayly ride a good race and it would be no surprise to see him finish in the top ten.

The Mars National Road Race will be broadcast on SBS HD from 1pm on Sunday January 8.