Cycling Australia has confirmed selections for the final two rounds of the UCI Track World Cup season to be held in New Zealand and Hong Kong respectively, with a host of the Australian Cycling Team Podium Potential Academy riders set for their first taste of international cycling.
Launched by Cycling Australia in November 2018, the Academy is focussed on long term athlete development with the current cohort aiming for success at the 2024 Olympic Games and beyond, in both sprint and endurance disciplines. Based at Adelaide’s Australian Cycling Team headquarters, the program is working to bridge the gap between the country’s regional high-performance network and the podium program.
Academy riders will form the majority of the ten-rider team for Round 5 in Cambridge, New Zealand, and, in what is one of the biggest Australian teams ever selected for a World Cup, the sixteen-rider team that will line up in Hong Kong’s final round.
“These World Cups will provide our Academy riders with valuable exposure to a world-class, high-performance event environment,” said Cycling Australia Head of Performance Pathways and People, Jonathan Norfolk.
”While the podium athletes are there to perform, for the Academy riders it is about learning to win and maximising the opportunity to refine their performance processes and to develop the habits and behaviours to prepare the foundation for long term success.”
The men’s endurance team of Jarrad Drizners, Godfrey Slattery, Conor Leahy and Luke Plapp is eager to make their World Cup debut.
“I am pretty excited to hit the world stage with the team at the World Cup,” said Leahy, who will contest both rounds with the team. “It is going to be a huge step up for me and everyone in the Academy, and I am looking forward to soaking up the environment with the team.”
The women’s endurance quartet of Alexandra Martin-Wallace, Sophie Edwards, Sam De Riter and Maeve Plouffe, who made her World Cup debut last October, will contest round six in Hong Kong.
“I really just want to make the most of it, gain as much from the experience, we will be looking for a really good time in the team pursuit as it is the most important for us,” said Martin-Wallace. “I love the bunch races, and I will be hoping to see where I am at when up against a World Cup field.”
The sprint selections for round six Hong Kong include debutants James Brister and Matthew Richardson, in addition to Thomas Clarke and Caitlin Ward who will both return to the World Cup level for the first time in more than two seasons.
“Pretty excited to get over there, gain from the experience, and race really well,” said Richardson. “I expect the competition will be really tough, but we need to be prepared to compete at levels like this if we want to take the next step. I will be looking to see how I cope with the pressure, to see if I handle it well, and to learn from this experience so I am ready for the next event.”
Australian Cycling Team Podium members Annette Edmondson, Kaarle McCulloch, Nathan Hart, Jacob Schmid and Holly Takos will contest the fifth round in Cambridge. Cameron Meyer, Samuel Welsford and Alexandra Manly will head to Hong Kong’s final round.
Australia’s leading sprinters in Stephanie Morton, who collected eight medals including four gold, and reigning world champion Matthew Glaetzer who won three gold and a silver in the sprint across the first four rounds, will remain in Australia to focus on preparations for February’s World Championships.
Australian Cycling Team - UCI Track World Cup Round 5 & 6
Round 5 - Cambridge - New Zealand
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Round 6 - Hong Kong