Twenty-two Australian champions were crowned on the opening morning of the 2022 Federation University National Road Championships in Ballarat yesterday.
Facing a strong breeze under cloudy skies, 56 starters – including 11 of Australia’s 12 cyclists at the Tokyo Paralympic Games – contested the time trials for para-cycling, cyclists with intellectual impairment, transplant cyclists and deaf cyclists.
Riders took on courses between 16.9 and 28.6 kilometres in length around Federation University’s Mount Helen Campus.
In their first outing since Tokyo, Paralympic medalists David Nicholas (Bathurst CC), Carol Cooke (St Kilda CC), Paige Greco (Port Adelaide CC), Amanda Reid (St George CC) Emily Petricola (St Kilda CC) and Darren Hicks (Norwood CC) put their names on this year’s list of champions.
The men’s blind or visually impaired category came down to the tightest of margins, with Daniel Searle (Albury-Wodonga CC) besting Kevin O’Meley (Southern Highlands CC) by just 3.5 seconds – reversing last year’s result in which O’Meley won by less than 3 seconds.
For the first time, AusCycling hosted championships for riders in the transplant community, a milestone in the growth of Australian cycling’s inclusiveness. Matthew Spencer (St Kilda CC) and Tamaryn Stevens (Coburg CC) – both recipients of kidney transplants – claimed the top step.
The third championship for athletes with an intellectual impairment saw Nathan Broeren (Brunswick CC) win his second title and Georgia Powning (Preston CC) complete a hat-trick of time trial victories.
Reece-Emerson Van Beek (VOGA CC) won the men’s championship for deaf cyclists.
Candice Kennedy (left) and pilot Kelly Fettes (Port Adelaide CC) won the Women's B time trial national title. (Photo: Josh Chadwick)
Carol Cooke 🥇 T2 Women: “It hurt like hell. The hill was really bad. I am only about 70 per cent fit since coming back from my crash in Tokyo, so it was just about coming out and getting back on the horse, as you say, and see what I could do.
“It is awesome to be racing. We had no racing anywhere after last year’s Nationals through until Tokyo, so it is great to have this, and everybody is being so COVID-aware. To be able to put it on is fantastic.”
Darren Hicks 🥇 C2 Men: “Today was a little better than I was expecting; really good numbers, good speed, difficult day with the wind, but overall, I am really happy.
“It is one of the biggest crowds we have had at a Nationals for a long time, and given the circumstances, that is incredible. It is really cool to see para get a foothold again and enjoying it.
“I try not to think too much about winning gold in Tokyo. That is in the past. We are now getting back into racing mode in 2022, regroup and start earning points towards Paris.”
Tamaryn Stevens 🥇 Transplant Women: “It was a hilly course which is always challenging for me, but I think once I got over the hills – yeah, the wind was there – but I was more focused on just riding in those areas.
“The kidney is new so [my goal is] getting back to some sort of fitness. Those who have seen me around know I’m sort of just on the edge; I can ride with the bunch for three laps and then I’m gone, so it’s mostly to get this kidney settled in and to get back to fitness.
“It was great to just ride, and Matt [Spencer] and I are friends, so it was great to come out here and celebrate the Nationals.”
Click to view the full results.
Photos: Josh Chadwick