National Junior Track Series set for fitting finale at DISC
While the Australian Cyclones will be in Minsk contesting the 2013 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the country's generation-next of track cycling will be in Melbourne for the final round of the Cycling Australia National Junior Track Series (NJTS).
On Saturday 23 February, the Darebin International Sports Centre (DISC) will provide a fitting venue for the finale, with the overall series winners for each age division being crowned and the overall winning Club/Combine being announced.
The second NJTS has been a roaring success and the superlatives to support this exhilarating event for U15 and U17 cyclists continue to be received from Clubs and State/Territory Associations, through to High Performance coaching staff witnessing the series in action.
The NJTS provides five rounds of fast paced, carnival style racing for aspiring junior cyclists and in its very short time on the calendar, the NJTS has proved to be a sensational Cycling Australia initiative and its series sponsors - the Santos Tour Down Under and Healthwise Active Travel and supporters Jayco and GreenEDGE.
In the 2012/13 series, Round 1 in Sydney attracted a record number of starters, with 149 riders representing their Clubs (or a combine of clubs) in 10 hours of racing over two days.
An increase in riders heading to the west was warmly welcomed as 100 cyclists converged on the Perth SpeedDome for Round 2, while 121 riders made the trip from the mainland for Launceston's Round 3 which included two days of NJTS action, track training sessions and the Launceston Cycling Classic.
The Adelaide Super-Drome hosted Round 4 and with the round being held in conjunction with the Santos Tour Down Under (TDU), 135 juniors continued the battle for NJTS honours as they soaked up the atmosphere of the TDU.
Organisers have been overwhelmed with the size of the fields in the 2013 edition, and the improved confidence and displays of skills from each round to the next. Individual battles in each age division have highlighted the depth of talent that is developing throughout the country, in addition to the sheer number of junior cyclists enjoying the thrill that track racing provides.
Visiting the riders during the season has been Olympic sprint gold medallist and time trial world record holder Anna Meares, Olympic sprint bronze medallist and reigning team sprint world champion Shane Perkins, plus former world sprint champion Sean Eadie at Round 4, and you have a series of which all junior riders are aspiring to be a part.
The racing schedule has included the 'usual track suspects'; points races, scratch races, derbies and eliminations, but the newly created cyclone sprint (2 lap dash from a standing start) and the introduction of keirin racing has created exciting cycling ation. Madison workshops were also introduced for U17 riders and proved hugely popular, with organisers already exploring the inclusion of Madison racing for the 2013/14 series as well as further educational opportunities.
In addition to series winners being crowned, riders contesting Melbourne's final round can qualify for the Junior Austral and if they have not had enough track racing by this point, they will also have the opportunity to contest the Preston Junior Track Carnival on Sunday to really make it a complete weekend of track cycling.
Round 5 of the NJTS commences on Saturday from 10.00am and is followed by the 115th Austral Wheelrace, commencing from 6.30pm.