• Neve Bradbury (Instagram @neve_bradbury)Source: Instagram @neve_bradbury
Neve Bradbury, at just 18 years of age, has exploded into the national conversation on the Australian cycling scene, going from a young rider who unfortunately wasn't able to shine at a junior level to vaulting into the WorldTour through the Zwift Academy to Canyon-SRAM.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

18 Feb 2021 - 1:44 PM 

It's always a moment of joy for Australian cycling when a rider takes the step up to the professional level and it was a double celebration as the Zwift Academy announced that Bradbury and Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) would ride with some of the best riders in the world next year.

The elevation of Bradbury came, not out of the blue - she was well-regarded by those well-versed in Australian cycling or her former team Roxsolt Liv SRAM - but without the results that a rider would normally get before attracting overseas attention. Of course, that is the beauty of the Zwift process and in this case, it has resulted in an already accomplished young star of the sport going to Europe to continue her development.

From lockdown to the WorldTour: Neve Bradbury
From the height of the Melbourne coronavirus lockdown to the roads of Europe, Neve Bradbury has arguably spent the months of isolation in a more beneficial manner than anyone else.
Bradbury secures Canyon-SRAM deal with Zwift Academy win
Australian Neve Bradbury, 18, was the women's winner of the 2020 Zwift Academy and will take up a professional contract with Canyon-SRAM in the new year.

Bradbury already feels welcomed by Canyon-SRAM as she told SBS Cycling Central.

"They're really nice. They've made it clear that there's no pressure on me for this season, they just want me to have fun," said Bradbury. They just seem like a nice bunch of people, a big family. I'll be there for a team camp with them in five weeks, that will be nice to meet everyone."

Bradbury caught the eye at the recent national championships in Ballarat in the kit normally worn most famously by Canyon-SRAM long-time member Tiffany Cromwell. Bradbury, nicknamed 'Nifty', didn't think she was seeing much overnight fame from her new WorldTour gig.

"I wouldn't call it fame, but it is really cool riding around in the Canyon-SRAM kit," said Bradbury. "I have this expectation that I should be really good, I love riding round in it but I'm not famous yet."

The nationals haven't been a happy hunting ground in the early career of the Victorian, with one of the most infamous finishes to a race on the Buninyong course central to her personal history.

In 2019, Bradbury was coming to a sprint finish in the junior (Under-19) national road race with Francesca Sewell when Sewell slipped her foot out of the pedal in the final dash to the line, 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.

"For Frankie to crash and me to win, that was bittersweet and then for me to be disqualified for having my bike coming in underweight that was bittersweet," said Bradbury. "I think Frankie would have won if she didn't crash, she had a better sprint than me at the time."

"I was pretty upset for a day, maybe a week, but now I just laugh at it... and maybe weigh my bike a bit more often."

"I had that one, then I had a crash a week before nationals last year, which meant I couldn't ride as a top-year Under 19. So I'd blown my two years at nationals as an Under-19."

That crash put Bradbury out of action for almost two months after she fractured bones in that nasty fall.

"I broke my jaw and my ribs,' said Bradbury. "I had a concussion as well. I had six weeks totally off the bike and then slowly built up. I started racing again before COVID hit, I could do club races... but then COVID hit."

Rolling from one problem into another has been a consistent theme throughout Bradbury's early career, but she holds the view that everything will work out for the best, an optimistic attitude that is paying off.

"I tell myself everything happens for a reason, that makes me feel better," said Bradbury. "It could have been that I needed a rest or that at nationals something worse could have happened."

2021 was another nationals where things didn't play into Bradbury's hands in her first foray into the elite ranks, with the tactics that appeared aimed at restricting Sarah Gigante also affecting the lone WorldTour rider as she watched the race ride away from within the peloton. Bradbury attacked on the final lap to finish sixth in the elite's, second in the Under 23's race. 

"There were people from the big teams in the early move," said Bradbury, "all the big teams except Sydney Uni and ARA had someone in (the break). It was just a really negative vibe in the bunch, nobody wanted to race or chase. Even when some other riders went they just let them go.

"There were us individual riders who thought that the teams could do work rather than us, well that's what I was thinking anyway. I think everyone was watching and waiting for Sarah to go and then do something about it, but it just got away further and further... and that was that."

Bradbury got an up-close look at the team tactics that have seen the Australian WorldTour team dominate the nationals road race in the past

"They definitely rode strong together," said Bradbury. "Having Sarah Roy in the break meant that they could just sit in the bunch and save their biccies. Grace Brown in particular was super strong at the end."

Bradbury soloes to memorable maiden victory
Neve Bradbury (Roxsolt-Attaquer) showcased her potential as a rider of the future, and of the present, with a solo win on Day 6 of women's racing at the National Road Series being staged on the Tweed Coast.
Roadnats: Ballarat local White conquers u23, drama in the women's u19s
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.

The 18-year-old races with composure beyond her years and experience, she's a smart rider in the bunch and when attacking, she seems to consistently pick good moments, part of the success behind her stage victory in the National Road Series last year.

"I think it's to with watching races with my dad (former highly-regarded cyclist Haydn Bradbury), he'd talk through what was happening," said Neve Bradbury. "I don't know, I guess I just get it."

Her racing debut in Europe will have to wait for a little bit, Bradbury will only get on a plane to meet up with her new teammates in mid-late March at training camp, with Bradbury's racing season not confirmed at this stage. She's studying Exercise and Sports Science at Deakin University which will take second priority to her cycling career. 

For domestic cycling fans, there should be plenty of opportunity to see her twin sister, Isla, in action for Neve's former team, Roxsolt Liv SRAM in the National Road Series.