• Ballarat local Nicholas White conquered the u23 men's race at the 2019 Cycling Australia FedUni Road National Championships (Con Chronis)Source: Con Chronis
Ballarat local Nick White (Team Bridgelane) proved he’s more than just a guy who races well domestically in the National Road Series, taking out the prestigious Under 23 men’s road race title in style.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
6 Jan 2019 - 9:13 AM  UPDATED 6 Jan 2019 - 9:33 AM

The race came down to a battle between three riders, with Tour de Tochigi winner Michael Potter (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) and long-term European campaigner Sam Jenner (Team Wiggins le Col) jumping clear on the final time up Mt Buninyong.

Inside the final kilometre with the peloton bearing down, White launched the decisive sprint, holding off Potter to win handily and celebrate in style.

The Ballarat local was ecstatic after the race, while the emotions were significantly more muted for the second and third placegetters.

“To do this in my home town is something else and to have all those supporters… I was getting the shakes going round the last lap with everyone yelling out my name,” said White. “It’s a pretty surreal feeling.”

“Last time over the climb it was super hard, but after all the effort the guys had put in, I knew I had to be up the front with those two guys.”

White prepared specifically for the race a long time and there are few who will be as familiar with the course as the local, with the sprinter come climber having ridden the course some 50 times in the three weeks prior to the race.

The build-up to the nationals was far from perfect, with the all-rounder sporting a knee brace for the race after damaging it in the weeks before. 

“I hadn’t been doing great numbers in training,” said White, “which is always annoying and worrying and I kept on annoying my coach, Pat Shaw, about it saying ‘I not feeling good mate, I’m not sure about this’.

“All he could say to me was have faith in the process. A lot of people had faith in me and they’re the people that got me through.”

One of the most honest and consistent competitors around, White’s mixture of climbing and sprinting talent will stand him in good stead if and when he makes the next level in his career. He will get a taste of what to expect when he suits up with the UniSA team for the Tour Down Under next week.

“The next step is next week with the Tour Down Under,” said White. “There were a lot of people who thought I got pretty lucky getting in that spot, so I knew I had a point to prove today.”

The race began with Dylan McKenna (X-Speed United), Blake Quick (St George Continental), Patrick Brett, Daniel Simpson, Tom Bolton (Drapac-Cannondale) and Jacob Emmerton (MTOSS Racing) in the early break establishing a handy advantage of just under four minutes.

But the break soon found themselves pursued by a larger chase group that contained a few of the outsiders for the title. The cohesion of the chasers was far from perfect and by the time the peloton woke up under the impetus of Pro Racing Sunshine Coast, they fell back towards the charging bunch.

Sunshine Coast continued to line out the race, setting things up for their star climber Potter to launch off the front of the race, with McKenna the last of the break to fall despite some other attackers joining him briefly.

Potter made good on his team’s work, attacking on the final ascent of Mt Buninyong, with only White and Jenner able to follow the move. The trio surged clear but once it became clear they would fight it out for the win ahead of the peloton, they began foxing and shirking the work.

The trio came into view of the finish with the peloton looming large behind, but had just enough gap to hold on for the win despite a brilliant sprint from Cam Scott (Sunshine Coast) that left daylight between himself and the remaining peloton to take fourth.

Drama in the under 19s 

Drama both before and after the finish characterised the under 19 women’s road race. The duo of Francesa Sewell and Neve Bradbury produced a powerhouse performance off the front of the race and continued to stretch out the gap to the rest of the field.

The race came down to a two-up sprint, with Sewell slipping her foot out of the pedal in the final dash to the line and coming down hard. Bradbury cruised in for the win as Sewell ran her damaged bike across the finish line to take second.

The action wasn’t done though as commissaires weighed Bradbury’s bike after the race and found it was 120 grams below the minimum weight required by the UCI, meaning Bradbury was disqualified and Sewell took the win.

Catch the drama of the under 19s in the highlights from Day 2

The under 19 men’s race was notable for other reasons as brothers Patrick Eddy, 16, and Sam Eddy, 17, took a memorable 1-2. Both were part of an elite group that went away with three laps remaining in the race, with Patrick Eddy attacking on the final ascent of Mt Buninyong to solo away to victory.

Sam bided his time behind with the chasers, attacking briefly but then falling in and waiting for the sprint, which he took out to the delight of his father and the Inform TM- Insight MAKE team.