Aussie title hopes
ELITE cyclists Stuart Smith and Nick Aitken are in great shape and are looking forward to competing in the Australian titles in Ballarat on January 8.
They will compete in the Under 23 road race over 120km. Both riders recently completed a successful 10 days at a training camp in Bright. In the middle of the training camp was a two-day tour around Mount Beauty, Tawonga Gap and
On day one Stuart completed the most successful ride of his career so far, finishing third in the stage over the 120kms distance. Hundreds of top riders from all over Australia were competing.
“I joined a 15 man breakaway 30km into the ride. This split again to four. It was pretty tough because the other three riders were all from the Drapac team. They tried to get away at various times, working me really hard. Two managed to get away but I picked up the third rider,” Stuart said.
Nick Aitken had his success on day two of the event. He won the afternoon time trial over 17 kms by just seven one hundredths of a second. Stuart is with the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) while Nick is in both the Vis and the Australian Institute of Sport (Jayco AIS squad) Currently both local riders are training between 500-800 kilometres per week. A typical day could include a 120km ride through South Gippsland hills followed by being motor-paced for one hour at 50km/h! The boys are trained by Stuart’s father Tony who recently received a life membership of the Leongatha Cycling Club.
Tony has worked with juniors for over 20 years both on the road and on the track. Past juniors he has coached to success include Keiran Love and Gerard Murphy who have both won National titles.
Nick will travel to Italy again next year. He recently attended an induction camp in Adelaide. For both Nick and Stuart the ultimate will be to be selected for a Pro-Tour team.
With several Australians managing the top European teams, both are in with some chance of gaining selection.
Whilst being competitive with each other, the two riders train together and have become good friends, working towards a common goal in their cycling.
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