In our post last month about Sam Jenner and the UCI Road World Championships, we said we’d hoped to catch up with him and find out more about what happened. Well, Sam has kindly taken time out from his HSC studies to have a chat and share the experience of representing Australia on the world stage.
Things didn’t get off to the best possible start when, after a 3-day training camp in Victoria, the team headed to Melbourne airport to travel to the US. Their flight was delayed, then delayed again, and again, before ultimately being cancelled. With bikes packed up and already in transit there wasn’t much they could do but sit around and when they finally made it to the US, they’d spent the better part of 2 days getting there.
However, things definitely picked up from there on in. Unlike some of the horror stories you hear on the pro circuit about team hotels, theirs was great and was shared by all the Aussie pro riders including Michael Matthews, Simon Gerrans and of course Inverell’s own Heinrich Haussler. As an added bonus Sam had the Australian mechanics working on his bike so things were definitely looking up. It got better still when at the Junior Conference meeting before the racing he won a jersey signed by Vasil Kiryienka, (World ITT Champion) and Taylor Phinney (World TTT Champion) in a quiz. As Sam says, “it was pretty cool”.
Overall Sam was in the US for 11 days so he had plenty of time to adjust, get over the jetlag and get his legs back, tapering for the main event – the Mens U19 Road Race which was towards the end of the tournament.
Sam’s road race was the only event where it actually rained during the race but it was forecast so he was prepared for it and rain isn’t something that bothers Sam. It clearly bothered a few other riders though with crashes and spills happening literally from the start. A combination of slippery white lines, wet cobbles and 167 U19 riders all out to impress ended hopes for a few riders but despite a fall on lap 2, Sam escaped unscathed and actually seemed to enjoy sliding around the treacherous course.
As expected, the standard of racing was incredibly high and up several notches from the domestic NRS with a much more aggressive style of riding and of course everyone was out to be noticed. The pace was hot from the gun and the effort clearly matched it with Sam averaging 330 watts (normalised power) for the 3.5 hour race.
Riders were also aware of their competitors and who to look out for, something that didn’t work in Sam’s favour. Also on the Australian team was 2014 World Championship ITT bronze medal winner Michael Storer who had been racing in Europe earlier in the season with his trademark black Trek Bontrager helmet. Sam and Michael look very similar off the bike and with Sam wearing his black Bontrager at the Worlds, he was a dead ringer for Michael who had switched to a Kask lid just beforehand. This explains, at least in part, why each time Sam made a move in the race, everyone jumped on his wheel. It was also probably because you’re a strong rider in your own right Sam!
On the last of 8 laps of the technical circuit the riders had completed almost 130k of hard racing. Sam found himself just out of contention on the final 200m cobbled climb of Libby Hill. With some rapid hard turns and two more punchy climbs remaining he couldn’t close the gap, finishing 54th, 1m:19s down on the world champion time with an average of 40.68kph. Just to put that into perspective, although the Men’s Elite Road Race was longer, rainbow jersey winner Peter Sagan averaged 41.86kph on the same circuit, in the dry.
Full results are available online at the Richmond 2015 website.
And now Sam has finally got through his HSC studies and exams, he is looking forward to even more racing for this season and into next. In December he’ll be racing in the 3-day Tour of Bright and hopefully working towards a good showing in the NRS and Nationals in 2016 where he will be moving up a grade into the U23 category.
Congratulations Sam from the whole Armidale cycling community – it has been a fantastic achievement and no doubt a great adventure for you, and hopefully one of many more to come.