Ring reporter Glenn Te Raki covers round 10,
Round 10 in Gnangara this Sunday is looking like an absolute beauty with two of WA’s latest young superstars lining up in the mens A grade event.
Jai Hindley and Michael Storer have not only just signed for the Orica-Scott feeder team (Mitchelton-Scott) but they have both just finished in the top 5 in the Herald Sun Tour, and were members of the winning UniSA team at the Tour down Under in Adelaide against the worlds best professionals, including 2016 Tour de France winner, Chris Froome and current world champion Peter Sagan.
Both Storer and Hindley will take to the start line on Sunday morning looking for a hit out result as they both race towards the Oceania championships in early March, held in the ACT.
A grade Series leader, Stephen Hall along with ex world Omnium champion Michael Freiberg will also be looking for big final hit outs before they head off to the Elite National track championships in Queensland the following week.
Plus this weekend will also see for the first time in the Ring series, a separate race for the womens A grade with both series leader, Melissa Robinson up against second placed Emily Mascaro.
18 starters are expected in the womens elite event, which is also shaping up to be the race of the round.
During the week I was able to catch up with both Michael and Jai in between training rides for a chin wag to find out what the guys have been up to –
GT- What a great start to the year guys, whats been the highlight for you both? Sun Tour or TdU?
Michael Storer- Both were highlights for me, as well as Cadel’s Race. The TDU had a great atmosphere with the crowds whilst the Sun Tour was a bit more quiet but more suited to our strengths and what we’re used to.
Jai Hindley – The highlight of the early season racing for me was definitely the Sun Tour. I’ve done it twice now and it’s a really enjoyable race, especially when the big hitters are there like Froome and Chavez. Even though they’re not in the greatest form it’s still a surreal experience racing against the guys you watch on TV. So to run 2nd overall in the tour was pretty crazy for me.
GT- Racing with the likes of Chris Froome in the Sun Tour and Peter Sagan in the TdU? How was that experience?
MS- It’s different seeing them in the same peloton as you because usually it’s on a tv screen and you’re on the couch not competing against them.
GT- Representing the Australian National team and the Uni SA Australian team in those key events must have had a special feeling?
MS- It was definitely special racing in the Australian team for these events, it’s always such a good feeling wearing the green and gold bands and representing the country at home.
JH- It’s always an amazing feeling pulling on the national team jersey and representing your country.
GT- In both of those team events you were racing alongside our own Cameron Meyer, what sort of experience and influence did he have on the team environment?
MS- Cam had a very positive influence and helped us create a very tight knit group that worked together so well. It was probably one of the best team atmospheres I’ve ever been a part of.
JH- We had a really strong team and I think all the guys showed that in the Sun Tour with 5 guys in the top 10 on GC. I think it was essential for the team to have guys like Cam Meyer and Nathan Earle there because they are both super classy riders who have ridden at that world tour level and have a lot of knowledge to pass on.
GT- And placing so well in both events must have been an outstanding feeling?
MS- It’s a great feeling to do so well against such strong competition, it’s exciting racing against them not really having a perfect idea of how fast they can go or where you could finish.
And racing these events at the start of the summer must have wet your personal appetite for more professional based racing?
MS- It was really cool racing against the professionals, but it’s back to mostly U23 racing for the rest of the year for us which will be challenging enough.
Since those two events what has been your training schedule?
MS- I’ve just been building up a good base for Oceanias and the next part of the season to come.
JH- After the Sun Tour I came home and had a bit of a break and am now getting back into the training, in preparation for the Oceania Championships and then the European season, which is shaping up to be a huge calendar packed with all the big U/23 races and tours. I’m super keen to get back over to Europe with the new team and try to hit the ground running.
GT- On the ‘new team’ I understand you will both be joining the Orica-Scott feeder team, Mitchelton- Scott for 2017, what is your racing calendar looking like for the season ahead?
MS- The second half is very similar to last year. However in the first half this year we’re doing more hilly and mountainous races in Italy, France and the Czech Republic unlike last year when we were in Belgium and the Netherlands.
GT- Thank you guys, and we would like to wish you all the best for the coming season.
So get on up to the super quick Gnangara circuit for the Ring Summer Criterium event on Sunday and cheer on you WA heros in what is shaping up as another cracking day of racing.
See you all there…