Australian Cycling Academy Riders Debut
16 July 2018
Australia’s newest cycling academy and Continental cycling team, the Sunshine Coast based Australian Cycling Academy (ACA) is making its Velothon Sunshine Coast debut.
Academy Director Ben Kersten is leading a five man team featuring top junior riders Alastair MacKellar and Armani Gates, that will add will add to the depth of Velothon while helping spread the word about why the Sunshine Coast is Australia’s cycling Mecca.
The ACA is the brain child of highly credentialled former aussie pro riders Kersten and Matt Wilson, and the late Garth Prowd, the man largely responsible for putting Noosa and the Sunshine Coast on the sporting map.
With the support of the Sunshine Coast Council and the University of the Sunshine Coast, the ACA was launched in December 2017 and the dream of a tertiary aligned cycling academy with a full live-in, high performance cycling training environment has become a reality.
“About a third of the team are at USC and about half overall are at university but combining their study with riding is not too complicated to negotiate. Sometimes they can’t race or sometimes they just defer their uni work or exams but it is pretty manageable and we are very supportive of that. Having the Continental licence means we get to race bigger events overseas and we have raced five UCI races this year and we are embarking on our next one to China so it allows us to race at a very high level.”
Kersten said the success of the ACA was almost immediate.
“We have had a really successful start to the year with riders winning medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, setting world records and racing and winning in Japan and New Zealand. It has been really good.”
“On the side we have a training camp and experience company which has lead us to our involvement with Velothon. We are running the VIP upgrade so anyone can come along and ride the velothon but you are supported by a professional team. It has been a pretty big start of the year and I am looking forward to Velothon.”
“Velothon has the same motives as us making people aware of how great the Sunshine Coast is to ride and how great cycling is. Being able to participate in such a great event on such wonderful roads in a fantastic climate is what we are promoting to the rest of Australia. It is great to be involved and it is going to be a good race.”
Across the three days of Velothon the ACA team will be on the road and among the peloton sharing their local knowledge and skills to improve every rider’s experience.
“The guys riding at Velothon are preparing for other races so they will be out there training hard and mingling with the other riders offering advice. We will be running a training camp so they will be sharing their experience and tips and helping guide that. They will be helping people set segment times and generally having a blast.”
“A couple of guys racing are staff but the main guys to look out for are our juniors Armani Gates, who is the son of Nick Gates who rode the Tour De France and he has just been relocated up from the Gold Coast. He is in a preparation phase for another race. Then Alistair Mackellar one of Australia’s best junior riders, a junior national champion and he is preparing for a stint in Italy as well. Then of course you have me slowing them all down,” Kersten said.
“A lot of the riders have relocated to the Sunshine Coast but for a cyclist who is doing 20 plus hours a week on the bike you get to find out the roads pretty quick and they love them. Even when I used to race and living at the Sunshine Coast and getting to know those roads as well it is a great circuit. I will actually be riding as well and suiting up again.”
“Everyone riding Velothon has made an effort to come to the Sunshine Coast and they are pumped and the locals get behind all these sort of events. Lots of the riders are coming from the Melbourne and Sydney weather and to get here and see how beautiful it is and you don’t have to wear arm warmers every gets excited and totally involved.”
“I just love doing events like Velothon where you get carried along by the gigantic wave of enthusiasm. I am looking forward to it except Obi Obi. I think I will have to have a few jelly beans at the bottom of that climb. Feel free to come past and chat and say hello to the team riders or ask for a lead out. Although I might just have hang onto the seat if they do that and get a bit of a tow,” he said