U23 Aussie Worlds Team – Stars of the Future

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The Cyclones U23 Worlds team was announced yesterday and seeing all these names together made me realise the incredible young talent Australia has coming up through the ranks. It also makes me realise how old I’m getting since “U23” means that these guys were born after 1989 (I was in Uni when most of them were in nappies!).

Here is the list of U23 riders who will be representing Australia in Copenhagen next week and a the little bit I know about each one:

From: Vale Park, SA
Age: 21
Current Team: Rabobank Continental Team
Selected for: Road Race

Rohan is an incredibly gifted rider and known to be a little bit “fiery” at times. He comes from a track endurance background and started racing at 7yrs old. He was part of the team pursuit squad (along with Durbridge, Hepburn and Bobridge) who won the world title in the Netherlands in March. He’ll have some good experience coming into Copenhagen as he’s already raced the World Champs in Geelong. We’re going to see amazing things from Dennis if he keeps this up.

Resides: Bassendean, WA
Age: 20
Current Team: Jayco AIS (current Australian U23 TT Champion)
Selected for: RR & TT

Luke just set a course record to win last Sunday’s Chrono Champenois (ITT) in France. Last year in the Geelong World Champs he was only 1.9 seconds off the winning TT when he became the youngest Australian rider in history to win a medal in the under 23 time trial at a world championships. Again, he was part of the 2011 World Championships winning team pursuit along with Dennis, Hepburn and Bobridge. I’ll be surprised if we don’t see a Durbridge win a medal in the TT next week. No pressure Luke!

Luke Durbridge setting the pace at the 2010 World Championships in Geelong

Resides: Brookfield, QLD
Age: 21
Current Team: Jayco AIS
Selected For: Road race and time trial

‘Heppy’ was tearing up the Tour L’Avenir (Tour of the Future) last week by winning the prologue (Rohan Dennis coming in 2nd) and then got booted out for an obscene gesture while winning Stage 3 (presumably directed at the race organisers after they penalised him for deviating from his sprint line in stage 2). Hepburn is one of the most talented riders Australia has and stands a serious shot at winning the World Championships RR.

Resides: Adelaide, SA
Age: 19
Current Team: Jayco AIS (Oceania TT Champion)
Selected for: Time Trial (and Road Race Reserve)

Damien was a late-comer into the sport of cycling at 15 years of age (ha!). I have to admit that I don’t know much about Damien but looking at his results he’s got some solid National Series and European palmarès behind him. He looks to have a track endurance upbringing and won Gold in the Team Pursuit at the Australian National Track Champs this year and is the current Oceania TT Champ. I’m certain he’ll do Australia proud in the TT next week in Copenhagen. If anyone can tell us more about Damien I’d be keen to hear it.

Richard LANG
Resides: Sydney, NSW
Age: 21
Current Team: Jayco AIS (Oceania RR Champion)
Selected For: Road Race

Richard is another late coming into cycling beginning when he was 15yrs old and doesn’t appear to have a track endurance background. That doesn’t matter because he’s won the Goulburn to Citi Classic (2009), is the 2009 U23 Roadman of the Year, the Oceania Championships, and has done more than most of us could ever achieve in six short years of cycling. Can anyone tell us more about Richard? Seems like a cool kid.

Resides: Brisbane, QLD
Age: 19 yrs old
Current Team: Jayco AIS
Selected For: Road Race

Jay has only been riding for about five years and has already won the 2010 U19 Australian Road Championships, came in 2nd in the Junior Road World Championships, and 7th in the Junior World Road Championships. He doesn’t appear to have a track background but certainly doesn’t need it.

Resides: Duffy, ACT
Age: 21 years old
Team: Drapac Cycling.
Selected for the Road Race

Tom began racing when he was nine and has had some great success in track endurance events. He won the U19 Kilo World Championships in Mexico a couple years back. He rode a 1:01min! He was thrown in late because he didn’t get a start in the team pursuit and was the first rider to start. But where he really shines these days is in his sprinting abilities – especially in criteriums. He’s beat ProTeam riders in bunch kicks over the past couple years and has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. He’s also a great bloke, incredibly mature for his age and is studying Political Science and Sociology full-time at the Australian National Uni.

Patrick LANE
From: Edithvale, VIC
Age: 20
Team: Jayco AIS
Selected for: RR Reserve

I remember Pat when I first moved to Australia. He was this tiny little 13yr old riding a bike far too big for him and keeping up with us on the Hell Ride. Every year he got better and better and he’d have no problems mixing it up on the track with us older guys. He now kicks everyone’s butt and manages to have an amazing sprint on him for a guy his size. He’s also an excellent climber and good race smarts.

Do you know any of these young guns or have any stories about them? If so, I’m keen to read about them in the comments.