Where Are They Now? – Aussie Young Guns

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Right before our eyes we’re witnessing a new generation of Australian cyclists kicking some serious butt. Just yesterday Bobridge smashed the Individual Pursuit world record by nearly 4 seconds (barring Chris Boardman’s 4:11.11 in the superman position), and Rohan Dennis posted the second fastest time in history with 4:13.399 during his heat. This is an incredibly special time for Australian cycling.

Today Jamie Jowett skims the surface of some of Australia’s emerging and lesser-known talents.  The obvious guy omitted from this list is Ritchie Porte. Just a few short years ago he was smashing us in the Tour of Bright, and now he’s more than likely Saxo Bank’s number one man going into the Tour de France. I’m speechless…

Where are they now? Aussie Young Guns

by Jamie Jowett

In a change of tone from the usual series, I thought I’d take a look at where some of our young Aussies are on the Pro Team and Pro Continental ranks this year. Don’t worry about the fact that there are 28 Aussie riders on Pro Team rosters this year, these guys are the next crop to look out for, even if some are more obvious than the others.

Photo courtesy James Broadway

Jack Bobridge (Garmin Cervelo) – I might be generating the biggest “Derr…?!” since someone asked me if Cashed Up Bogans drove black X5’s, but remember Jacky Bobby is only 21. Besides he has to be acknowledged for his win in the nationals and the fact that it was the best for many years. I put him in here partly because it will be interesting to see what races the team puts him in, or doesn’t now Matt White is gone, and what happens when Green Edge get the cheque book out later in the year.

Fabio Calabria (Team Type 1) – Racing for this newly promoted US Pro Conti team, the Canberra boy is a climbing specialist – well at 54kg if you don’t like horses you‘ve got to do something… Interestingly, his team website says he’s also got Type 1 diabetes. He was good enough to make the small group in the initial breakaway in the Nationals and win the sprint points jersey. I’m tipping he barracks for Carlton with that name too, good lad.

Jonathon Clarke (United Healthcare USA) – The Melbourne 25 year old races for an ‘almost Aussie‘ Pro Conti team with Hilton Clarke, Rory Sutherland, and sprinting legend Silverback Karl Menzies. They are otherwise known as a “four man criterium wrecking crew”. Jono has a long palmares already for a young guy, including a stage win at the TDU. But I just like the way Jono takes the piss out of the Yanks with his profile on the team website (“Q. Little known fact about Jonathon? A. He has a pet crocodile in Australia”). Sure mate…

photo courtesy of Leigh Schilling

Simon Clarke (Astana) – Simon Clarke joined Astana late last year and was relieved to find out Allan Davis was joking when he told him it was team rules to the Astana Borat ‘mankini’ that was included in the team kit. Riding under Vinokourov would be very interesting, as would a team whose website talks of, “the Motherland of the Astana team – the Republic of Kazakhstan”. Previously with Italian team ISD-Neri, the 24 year old will get the opportunity to take his career to another level this year.

photo courtesy of Leigh Schilling

Will Clarke (Team Leopard) – Will Clarke must feel like he’s just been made the new guitarist for U2. Riding alongside Andy and Frank Schleck, Spartacus, Stuart O’Grady and Jens Voigt would be the stuff every cyclist dreams of. So long as he doesn’t have to wear that uber metro-sexual team scarf or pronounce the naff team name Leo-Paard. “Grrrr”.

Mitch Docker (Skil Shimano) – Mitch extended his contract last year after pants’ing Tyler Farrar and Graham Brown in a sprint to win a stage of the Delta Tour Zeeland in Holland, and taking a stage in the Route de Sud as well. It’s a long way from Rosanna for the ex-Drapac Porsche rider, but with Skil Shimano having just signed up some major sponsors, hopefully the team will be back in the Tour in the future with Mitch there as well.

Photo courtesy of Veeral Patel

Ben King (Team Type 1) – Chasing down ‘the other Ben King’ in the U/23 Worlds race played a major part in Matthews’ win. After a strong year with Trek Livestrong, and at only 22, Ben’s 6th place in the U/23 Paris-Roubaix last year is a sure sign of bigger things to come.

photo courtesy James Broadway

Joseph Lewis (Trek LiveStrong Development Squad) – Although known for his local stage wins, the ex-Drapac Porsche rider is more adept at finding the right spot in a race than being a pure sprinter. Joseph chose against the AIS route, instead chasing the team manager of Trek LiveStrong direct (having used his Aussie contacts to get Axel Merckx’s email address). Joseph told Cycling News, “I just emailed him, telling him who I was and what I wanted to do next year and what I was doing…since then I’ve just been talking to him and emailing results. Eventually he just offered me a spot”. Nice one.

Michael Matthews (Rabobank) – Okay, so no one really needs much of an update. Jeez I can’t even drop into my local cafe without seeing him do a photo-shoot at in his Gangsta bling, tatts, and an “I’m famous!” air. His win in the U/23 Worlds was pure quality, based on a fantastic team effort. After good sprint stage wins in the Bay Crits and TDU, us locals know he’ll be a star, now it’s up to the Euro’s to see the low hand (half Fonzie “Heyyyy” and half Gen Y style “how good am I huh?!”) victory salute.

Photo courtesy Veeral Patel

Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo) – Cam made the cut in the team merger with his little brother Travis, but only after Cam won every Australian and world track title there is. Now he’s been able to concentrate on his road career, Cam’s win at the TDU was very popular. I’m not expecting a Tour ride this year though, he is only 22 after all, but let’s wait and see what race programme they give him.

Tim Roe (BMC) – After a year with the Trek LiveStrong U23 development squad, Tim Roe has joined BMC as a Neo pro, largely for the promise shown as a climber. Probably could have had a better TDU this year, but the kid’s only 21 so let’s cut him some slack. With Hincapie aged 37, Cadel 33, and several other riders in their ‘30’s, maybe Roe’s spot on the BMC team is to develop and draw on the experience of his colleagues. Personally I doubt he’ll get the opportunity to support Cadel on the Tour this year, but he has a great future ahead.

David Tanner (Saxo Bank SunGard) – Probably one of the few good stories to come out of the Pegasus mess. Said to be an excellent all rounder on the bike, he’s worked a long hard road to get his spot on a Pro team from his days with Carnegie Cycling Club. Initially with French development teams as an U/23, he headed to the US and raced with the chequered bunch at Rock Racing before joining Fly V, and here we are today. I reckon his fortunes hinge on Richie’s this year.

photo courtesy of Leigh Schilling

Cameron Wurf (Liquigas Cannondale) – The former Olympic rower’s work as a Domestique with local team Androni Giocattoli at last year’s Giro impressed many. His rise to a spot on ‘Italy’s team’ is a combination of hard work, ability, and some luck – he saw Basso in a training ride in 2005 and gave him his spare tube, then spent the next couple of hours chewing his ear off. Oh, and good connections helped too – his then team coach Aldo Sassi put in a good word for him with the boss of Team Liquigas. Riding with Basso and Nibali is an opportunity well earned though.

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