Although we reported on Sam Jenner’s great performance and results in the Mersey Valley Tour earlier this month in a previous post, we didn’t have much information on how the actual racing went. Since then we’ve caught up with Sam and got his take on the U19 event that attracted riders from Australia and NZ.
The weekend before, Sam had raced in the 2015 Cycling Australia Junior Mountain Climb Championships at Mt Buffalo, finishing a very respectable 10th in the GC. The TT course had been cut to 8K due to bad weather at the summit, unfortunately meaning there was no actual climbing to be done. Despite the very short course Sam still grabbed 5th spot on the day which he backed up with a 13th in the road race. Although 10th overall was a good solid result, it wasn’t good enough for Sam who arrived in Tasmania for the Mersey Valley Tour determined to do better in the first of several events that will be used as the basis for selecting an Australian team for the Junior Mens races in the World Championships in September this year.
Following some good reconnaissance work on the ITT course ahead of time, Sam knew what was in store for him and he consequently managed to sit in the zone for the whole ride, netting himself a 4th place and the third Aussie over the line. With no GC for the 3 day tour, the next two days involved independent road races. The first was a 105K road race which involved 3 laps of a circuit that included a solid steep climb ahead of a hill-top finish. With 20K to go everyone was together so Sam had a crack off the front and with 15K remaining he found himself with a 40s lead as he approached the bottom of the climb. He paced himself up and almost stayed away but a small group of 3 riders were chasing and they made contact 2-3K from the summit. With enough left in the tank to latch onto the back of them, it looked like he might be able to hang on and contest a sprint for the line but the solo climb had taken its toll and in the final 500M he lost contact but still finished 4th, well ahead of the remnants of the bunch which had been completely shredded on the climb with 17mins separating the top 29 riders.
The next day, and another road race and one involving another good climb near the finish of around 3K which averaged 12% and contained ramps up to 20%. Sam found himself at the front of the bunch on the climb chasing down a break of 3 riders which had around 1m:30s on the pack. With the race punching hard up the climb in 12mins there was no opportunity to get off the front on the climb so Sam attacked on the downhill section hoping to get away but ended up bringing the pack with him. They didn’t quite catch the trio ahead but closed the gap down to under a minute and he still had enough left to win the bunch sprint and claim fourth spot once again.
There is no let up for Sam who has a packed schedule over the next few weeks, racing in the Tour of Toowoomba (May 21-24), Battle on the Border (May 28-31) and then the U19 National Road Championships (10-12 July) so if you’re anywhere near those locations, tag along and cheer him on. Before then he’s off to Northern Sydney for the State Road Race and TT Championships at Akuna Bay and he’ll have another Armidale rider, Sam Munday with him for company as he prepares to head off to the USA next month to train with his Novo Nordisk Junior Development team. It’s fantastic to have Armidale riders competing at these state and national events. Well done Sam Jenner and Sam Munday and we wish you both the very best of luck!