Aitken’s dream ride
By Brad Lester and Chris Brown
WONTHAGGI cyclist Nick Aitken is competing against the world’s best racers this week in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
The 19-year-old is part of the Jayco Australia National team, riding alongside 2007 tour winner Matt Wilson.
Aitken was invited to join the team after superb rides in the recent Tour of Tasmania and Tour de Murray River, impressing Victorian Institute of Sport head coach, Dave Sanders.
Aitken placed 18th in a field of 120 in Tasmania and fifth in a similar sized pool along the Murray.
“I’ve been in good form and now I’ve just got to be in a good mood on the day, be in the breaks, and ride well in the hills and the crosswinds,” he said.
The Jayco tour started in Ballarat on Sunday and will travel to Colac, Warrnambool and along the Great Road, finishing in Lygon Street in the city on Saturday.
Riders will complete three circuits: Ballarat, Geelong and the CBD.
Aitken will be wearing number 12 and a white Jayco jersey with green and gold stripes.
His team role will include supplying food and water to his more experienced team-mates but the experience will be invaluable nonetheless.
“Just racing with a lot of big names like Bradley Wiggins and Trent Lowe will be something,” Aitken said.
Wiggins is the rider to beat, with three Olympic gold medals, six world titles and a fourth placing in the Tour de France to his name.
Aitken is aiming for selection to the Australian Institute of Sport next year and aims to win an Australian road racing title.
He won the Tour of Gippsland this year and also in 2007, and trains up to 600km a week.
A member of the Leongatha Cycling Club since he was eight, Aitken trains by riding long distances throughout the hills of Bass, Korumburra, Leongatha and Mirboo North.
“Riding is a really good challenge and it’s fun, and winning is always good,” he said.
Aitken works at the Crossover Cycle shop in Wonthaggi.
The amount of time he can spend at the shop is determined by his racing schedule.
Business owner and manager, Heath Price said he watched the criterium around Ballarat on Sunday night.
“He was up the front for the first couple of laps and then there was a breakaway group half way through that got away from his bunch,” he said.
A 30 minute highlights package will be shown on One HD every weeknight at various times during the tour.
On Saturday there will be a two-hour show beginning at 5pm.
Price said that Aitken has been working for him at Crossover Cycle for about a year.
“In the shop he does a few repairs and builds bikes. He does sales stuff as well,” he said.
“He’s a good kid and pretty friendly.”
Price said that Aitken is dedicated to his sport.
“For someone his age to be able to race full time it’s a lot of money out of his own pocket,”
“They have sponsors, but it’s not a huge support. There’s still a lot of things he has to pay for.
“He’s doing pretty well and to be involved in a team like he is pretty good for a local guy.”
Watch Nick’s progress on the Internet: www.heraldsuntour.com.au.
Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=335