Team Bridgelane underwent a change in the offseason heading into 2019, becoming an amalgam of the well-known Praties team that has produced many Australian WorldTour riders and the comparative newcomers Mobius-Bridgelane.
The revamped outfit is looking to continue the proud tradition of developing talent of the calibre of Nathan Haas and Richie Porte with the current crop of Australia’s next generation of cycling stars by heading over to Europe to compete in a solid block of racing that includes the Hungarian race.
Nick White is perhaps the best known of those riders, the Under 23 national road race champion finishing a narrow second in the overall National Road Series last year when riding for Oliver’s Real Food and seemingly continued that development with Bridgelane. He put his best foot forward with prominent showings during the summer of cycling in Australia, then won the Melbourne to Warrnambool and took out a stage of the UCI-rates 2.1 Tour of Taiwan.
White is well aware that success will count for little with the evaluators who will judge whether he will get a professional contract with a top-tier squad as he tells Cycling Central.
“At the end of the day you can get a lot of results in Australia and Asia, but until you can really prove yourself in Europe it’s hard to get a look in,” said White. “Europe is seen as the pinnacle of and it is really, it’s where all the best riders are and the hardest racing is, I guess. There’s a lot more prestige in Europe with winning races.”
White is just over a week removed from the Tour of Japan, part of the squad came away with a stellar tour performance, with Ayden Toovey taking out a stage and Chris Harper winning a stage en route to overall success in the prestigious Asian race.
“We’ve got a few GC options, then for the flatter stages I’ll look to get around for the bunch kicks,” said White. “We’re pretty optimistic, after Tour of Japan the morale’s pretty high and we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do in Europe.”
European competition means facing off against teams with bigger budgets, with a team like Cofidis who will line up in Hungary rumoured to have a budget on par with WorldTour squads.
“A lot of our team were part of the big races early in the year,” said White. “The Tour Down Under, Cadels and Herald Sun Tour showed that we can mix it with those WorldTour teams.
“Quite a few of the guys from this squad were involved in that and it gives us the confidence that we can mix it with these teams as well. Just because a team has more money to spend doesn’t mean that they have stronger riders.”
Like many young Australian aspiring professionals, White has spent time racing the Belgian kermesse scene, tough circuit races that often attract some of the biggest names in the sport as well as the younger cadre. The Tour de Hongrie will a different challenge entirely with former WorldTour pros like Jan Barta, Luis Angel Mate and Vuelta stage winner Francesco Gavazzi all lining up for the first stage in Siófok.
“I’ve never really done a tour in Europe,” said White, “I’d imagine it’s similar to racing in Belgium, but it’s still a bit of going into the unknown.”
“You have to have confidence going in, you need that going into a bike race. I’m hoping that I’ve put myself in the best position to succeed, I’ve done the training and I’m feeling pretty good at the moment.”
White is best known for his sprinting prowess, with wins at Melbourne to Warrnambool, and winning the bunch sprint for third at Grafton to Inverell indicating that the Ballarat local is at his best after a hard race.
“Sprinting is definitely my strongest suit,” said White. “It definitely helps if it’s been a tougher race, but I’m still producing the numbers to be competitive if it’s a flat race. I’m pretty confident about how I’ll go in these bunch kicks.”
White’s push to make it as a professional cyclist won’t stop here, with the Victorian set for the Australian Tour de l’Avenir squad that will contest the ‘Race of the Future’ and has been the traditional spot for the scouting of talent by the WorldTour. With a rider like recent Tour of California winner Tadej Pogacar taking third in the 2017 Tour de Hongrie, the race has a pedigree of pointing towards stars of the future.
White and his Bridgelane teammates will look to emulate that pathway as they race this week, alongside other Australian Cyrus Monk (EvoPro Racing) and Zak Dempster (Israeli Cycling Academy).
Team Bridgelane: Ayden Toovey, Scott Bowden, Nick White, Lionel Mawditt, Peter Livingstone, Hayden McCormick, Jason Lea.
SBS Cycling Central will feature daily highlights online from every stage of the Tour de Hongrie, with a full wrap from the race on Sunday 23 June broadcast on SBS from 5.00 pm.