100th Melbourne to Warrnambool

This Saturday marks the historic 100th running of the 279km Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic. One of the oldest road races still in existence anywhere in the world (only Liege-Bastogne-Liege has been around longer), AMR Renault Racing is proud to be sending a full squad of seven to the start line in Werribee. Team captain Kris Johnston was our highest place finisher in the 2014 race, and returns along with ‘Warney’ debutant, Toby Orchard, to bolster the nucleus from our hugely successful squad at last week’s Jayco Tour of Tasmania. It will be a tough day in the saddle, but one the guys are really looking forward to.


AMR Renault Racing_2015 M2W Squad

Sunderland creates history in Tasmania

Dylan wins solo in Grindelwald. (Photo: Cycling Australia)

Dylan Sunderland has continued his awesome run of form in 2015, taking out the overall Young Rider Classification at the 2015 Jayco Tour of Tasmania and finishing an outstanding 3rd on overall GC, just 8 seconds behind winner Brad Evans. On the way he created an important piece of history for the team, winning our maiden NRS stage, on Stage 4 from Launceston to Grindelwald with an impressive late attack.

Winner 2015 Young Rider Classification. (Photo: Cycling Australia)

Huge thanks go to the entire squad for helping Dylan get this historic win. Ben Carman, Matt Slee, Aaron Watts and Tim Cameron busted their tails for the team all week – and Dylan returned the favour in spades by finishing things off beautifully when it mattered most. Tim also rode a wonderful tour, showing outstanding form to finish an impressive 15th overall, less than 40 seconds off Brad Evans.

Next stop is Warney on Saturday and the small matter of 279km….

3rd on GC, the team's first overall NRS podium
3rd on GC, the team’s first overall NRS podium. (Photo: Cycling Australia)

2015 Gentle Annie Classic Race Report

It was a successful weekend for the AMR Renault Racing team. On Saturday Matt Slee took out A-grade at the O’Connors transport Tyalgum Cup, Josh Aldridge won the Gentle Annie Classic and to cap it off on Sunday Toby Orchard was crowned the Southern District road champion for 2015. Here’s a first-hand account of the (not so) ‘Gentle Annie’ race from Josh…


“The Gentle Annie Classic is an open event organised by Ramblers Cycling Club. Over its short history it’s built a reputation as being the ‘hilliest race in NZ’ with 2900m (according to my Garmin) of climbing over 133km.

A classy field lined up for the 2015 edition. The Avanti Racing Team were represented by three riders including defending champ Fraser Gough. Also lining up was Olympic medallist Westley Gough, Junior World Champ Regan Gough and a few other NRS riders.

I knew the Gough trio on their home turf were the riders to watch, but with a few decent climbs along the way it was anyone’s race to be won. Early in the race Fraser escaped with a small group which was a little concerning. Luckily, despite some big climbs looming there were others in the bunch who were prepared to roll and limit the gap to less than a minute. As we crested the second major climb Robert Stannard and I bridged the reduced gap and made contact with the leaders to form a group of four. It wasn’t the right combination and our lead was short lived.

Josh and friends in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t look especially gentle to us?!

Soon after I was back in a lead group of about a dozen. Throughout the middle hour of the race I went through a bad spell and five riders escaped, a dangerous move which included all three Gough’s. A few more riders got dropped from my group and I saw my chances of winning beginning to disappear up the road. I still had a few riders alongside me who I’m sure were thinking the same thing. We let each other suffer in silence and kept the legs ticking over.

Then we hit the ‘Gentle Annie’ climb. The extreme gradient and low speeds tricked my mind into thinking the gap (probably almost a minute) was a lot less and I found enough in the legs to drag myself back into the race. As I got closer I realised everyone was suffering at least as much as me and I stared to feel good for the first time. Some miracle kept me on the road when I misjudged a corner on the descent and nine of us regrouped at the front of the race. There was calm for a moment and I tried to figure out how everyone else was feeling.

Dan Molyneax and Nick Osten tested their legs over the last major climb of the day but were never allowed out of sight, as a couple more riders were lost to attrition. With all the bergs ticked off the list and nobody wanting to pull into the headwind, the attacks began. Several riders had a crack at getting away but no gifts was given until the final 25km when Callum Gordon and I were allowed some freedom. With 20km it was déjà vu, two against five just like K2 only this time I was not alone. Callum and I knew exactly what we had to do (bury ourselves about 30 minutes and pray the five chasers don’t get organised). If we thought about who was going to win, neither of us would.

As we rounded the last corner I was on Callum’s wheel. We could both see the finish line less than a kilometre away. I took one last look behind and for the first time I was sure we couldn’t be caught. It crossed my mind getting beaten by Callum in the bunch sprint 4 weeks earlier at the REV Classic. Cycling can be a cruel sport. I stayed glued to his wheel until the final 200m. He shifted up one gear so I shifted up two and didn’t look back until I crossed the line.

Thanks to all the organisers and sponsors, especially Brett Hooker and Ricoh for making this event happen. Hope this event remains on the calendar (maybe in reverse one year would be cool).”

Josh takes the win. Go you good thing.
The 2015 Gentle Annie Classic category winners, Josh is second right.

RACE REPORT: 2015 Oceania Championships

In the road race at the 2015 Oceania Championships AMR Renault was represented by a team of six with Dylan Sunderland, Matt Slee, Laurie Groom (all U23), Josh Aldridge, Aaron Watts and Cam Fraser (Elite) taking the start line. This is how Josh Aldridge saw things on his way to finishing 24th…



Conditions were calm by Toowoomba standards but with 142km and the temperature topping 30 degrees it was going to be a tough day in the saddle. Early in the race the peloton was nervous and it was very difficult to hold a good position near the front of the bunch. The team was caught out of position when an early break of seven riders escaped. With Avanti, Drapac and Budget Forklifts all content with the situation they blocked the road and the gap quickly extended to the 3-minute mark.

Into the second lap Data#3, who like us were not represented, set a good tempo on the front of the peloton and the gap came down to about 2 minutes. This suited AMR Renault and we rode well as a unit towards the front of the bunch, looking to stay out of trouble and conserve energy.


Midway through the 3rd lap some serious attacks started as legs were starting to tire. Then Drapac took control of the race and forced the pace. Soon after the feed zone a nasty crash took down five riders and split the peloton. Dylan was the only AMR Renault rider in the front bunch, the others all getting delayed by the crash. After a hard chase I made it across with a small group by the beginning of the final lap and after an even harder chase Matt also dragged himself back on.

Cam, with shoes

At this point we realised that the original break was not going to be caught. But with only one U23 rider in the break, we knew Dylan had a good shot at a high finish. Coming into the hilly 2nd half of the final lap, Matt paid the price for his hard chase and lost contact with the bunch while I helped Dylan get near the front.

In the closing kilometers Dylan rode strongly and followed several moves which all came back together for a reduced bunch sprint. Dylan sprinted to 6th placed U23 (19th overall) only narrowly missing out on a podium. I came across the line in the same bunch in 24th Elite (36th overall). Matt and Aaron came across the line in 47th and 62nd place respectively. The hard conditions got to Cam and Laurie who had to abandon the race. Taylor Gunman took the Oceania title for Avanti Racing.

The race summed up a good weekend in Toowoomba for the AMR Renault Racing Team, gaining valuable experience racing together ahead of the upcoming NRS season.

Thanks to all the parents who did a superb job keeping the boys hydrated throughout the race. Without them we would all be dead on the side of the road!

Post race


Last week AMR Renault Racing’s resident kiwi, Josh Aldridge, competed in the 5-stage UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic as part of a composite team. This is how he saw the race…


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This year 16 teams of five from Australia and NZ formed a field of 80 riders. The tour opened with a 3.5km prologue with a couple of speed bumps and challenging corners. Not exactly my kind of stage but I put myself through a bit over 4.5 minutes of pain and came out in 50th place, 32 seconds down on stage winner Joe Cooper who put 12 seconds into his teammate Fraser Gough in 2nd. Morgan Smith from Subaru Albion finished 3rd.

Stage 1:
Stage 1 was a lumpy 133km from Palmerston North to Ashhurst. After the first sprint a large break of 14 was established. At the time I wasn’t too cornered because Avanti’s Cooper and Gough in yellow and white jerseys were still present in peloton. When nobody chased I realised there were two riders from each of the four strongest teams missing from the peloton and the gap quickly blew out to 3 minutes. Data#3 started working and limited the damage in first half of the stage, but it was obvious they didn’t have the firepower to bring it back. Mid-way through the stage I started attacking with a few others and we eventually formed a strong chase bunch that were prepared to work (most of the time). We got within a minute of the front with 25km to race before our organisation broke down. Nine from original break stayed away and I finished the stage in 24th (back of chase bunch) to move up to 23rd on GC. Christie won stage and Barry of Budget Forklifts took yellow.

Stage 2:
Stage 2 was 139km from Palmerston North to Fielding. I punctured 10km into the stage which ended my hopes of getting into the break. When I re-joined the peloton the break had gone and I found myself doing another headcount, one blue helmet missing (Cooper) one yellow helmet missing (Berry), along with Oram and a few others. Couldn’t work out why Budget Forklifts were riding on the front of the peloton as even though Barry had yellow, Berry was the best placed GC rider in break. Meanwhile some strange politics was going on up the road because a 6 minute gap disappeared in the space of 20km. We caught the break with about 50km to go on the hardest part of the stage and immediately Avanti attacked and the field split again. The end result was 4 Avanti driving the front group of just 10 riders and 4 Budget riders driving the chase group of 18 riders. I was in the chase group and we lost over 3 minutes. Avanti regained 1st and 2nd on GC and Gunman took yellow.

Stage 3:
Stage 3 was 127km, including 5 laps of an 18km circuit before finishing with a 2.5km climb. After two hard stages I decided to have an easy day in the bunch and save my legs for the final climb and tomorrow’s queen stage. I thought it was a pretty safe strategy since the long straights on the circuit were head/tail wind and the short straights were cross winds. I expected Avanti to control the race with their strong position in the GC. I was wrong. Soon after the flag dropped 20+ riders were up the road. I left the chase to other teams and got lucky, the majority of the break came back. With just 3 riders up the road to contest the stage, the majority of the field came into the final climb together. I finished 17th on the stage. Oram won from the break, Gunman retained yellow and I moved to 14th on GC.

Stage 4:
The fourth and final stage (on my birthday) was 164km. After 4 days of sunshine and 30 degree temperatures it rained all day. The roads were greasy and staying on the bike proved the biggest challenge of the day. Apart riders falling off their bikes, including the yellow jersey, the stage more or less followed the normal script with a non-threatening break being allowed to escape and brought back by Avanti by the final climb. The head wind on the final climb discouraged attacks until about 1km from the summit when Oram and Prete escaped. I was caught a bit out of position and had to get around a few riders having difficulties with traction on the descent. Near the bottom the chase stalled so I had a dig and tried to ride across the 10-15 seconds gap. I only made it about half way then soon found myself back in the chase bunch with 3km to go. Prete beat Oram for the stage win and I came 12th, also finishing up 12th on the final GC.

Overall I was relatively happy with the week of racing. Looking forward to the 2015 Oceania Championships in two weeks in Toowoomba, my first official race with AMR Renault Racing.


2015 NZ Cycle Classic: Final Results

Top 10 on GC at 2015 Tour de Vineyards

RACE REPORT: 2015 Tour de Vineyards
As ridden by AMR Renault Racing’s Josh Aldridge.

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The Tour de Vinyards is New Zealand’s 3rd most prestigious tour after Southland and Manuwatu. It traditionally attracts a strong field looking for a good hit-out one week before the NZ nationals. This year the tour was dominated by a new look Avanti team who brought five riders including the two most dominant riders in the 2014 NRS, Joe Cooper and Pat Bevin. This year’s tour opened with a 10km individual time trial where I finished in 20th place clocking 13:02 on my road bike. The stage win went to Joe Cooper of Avanti in 11:38.

Stage 2 was a 128km road race in wet and windy conditions. After 10km, four dangerous riders escaped including Horgan and Barry from Budget Forklifts and Bevin from Avanti. This set off a few alarm bells and attempts to get across were coming left, right and centre. I followed a few wheels and found myself in a chase group of 5 which included Joe Cooper (yellow), and George Bennett (World Tour). About 20km into the race we made contact with the front four to form a lead break of 9. We all worked hard and 100km into the race our lead was over 10mins on the peloton who had given up the chase. In hindsight I had gone a bit too deep getting across and never really gave myself a chance to recover. After lapping at threshold for 2.5 hours I started missing the odd turn then with about 20km to go my legs completely blew and I only barely dragged myself to the finish just ahead of the peloton. I lost 12 minutes (within just 20km!) to Bevin who won the stage.

Stage 3 was another undulating 124km road race and a recovery day for me. After the previous day’s effort I needed an armchair ride in the peloton. Luckily Patrick Bevin had the same idea and an easy ride was exactly what I got. A non-threatening break of four got away (all 12+ minutes down on GC) and Avanti was happy to ride tempo on the front of peloton. Two of my former Albion teammates Hamish Schreurs and Adam Bull were in the break and came 1st and 3rd on the stage. Despite a puncture midway through the stage I finished safely in the peloton about 2 minutes back.

Stage 4 was the queen stage of the tour, 115km finishing with a 14km climb to the summit of Takaka Hill (900m). Once again four riders slipped up the road and Avanti were happy to control the gap at around 3-4 minutes. I wanted a chance at a good stage result and started to worry that Avanti were not interested in bringing back break. Luckily a couple of smaller teams with stage ambitions chipped in, limiting the break’s advantage to less than a minute at the base of the final climb. When the road went up, the peloton was quickly reduced to about a dozen riders. About half way up George Bennet pushed the pace which split the lead bunch into two. Only 3 Avanti riders could match Bennet and I ended up in the 2nd bunch sprinting for 5th place. I crossed the line 7th, 1:52 behind Cooper and Bevin.

The 5th and final stage was a 55km race around a 3km circuit in Richmond. Definitely the most painful 80 minutes of the week. There were a lot of riders like me who had little to show from 4 days of racing and were keen to give it a nudge. Several dangerous breaks of 2-3 went up the road and for the first time Avanti seemed to be under a bit of pressure controlling the race with the yellow jersey doing a lot of chasing himself. Hogan made a brave move on the penultimate lap, dropping his breakaway companions and going solo, getting caught within sight of the finish. The stage ended in a (very reduced) bunch sprint and another 1-2 for Cooper and Bevin for the 3rd time this tour! I held on to 9th place overall on GC for the tour.

Next outing for me is the NZ Nationals road race next Sunday; same day as the Aussie Nationals.


New name. New season.

Matt Slee_2014 Tour of Tasmania_PHOTO Jarrod Partridge.jpg
Continuing 2014 rider, Matt Slee. Photo: Jarrod Partridge

Yes, it’s only been three weeks since Grafton to Inverell. But it’s been an off-season full of changes and, yes, surprises. After a lot of work in the background by a lot of passionate people, we’re thrilled to announce that the team formerly known as CRT will be racing in 2015 with an exciting new naming sponsor, AMR Renault. Together with the continued support of 2014 partners such as Bikebug.com, Piazza D’oro, Cellarbrations and our affiliate club, Lidcombe-Auburn CC, we’ll be back to tackle the Subaru National Road Series as well as the major Opens, and state and national championships in 2015.

The final touches are currently being put on the AMR Renault Racing Team elite and development squad rosters, but you can expect to see plenty of familiar faces including Kris Johnston, Matt Slee and Dylan Sunderland, together with some exciting new additions. Stay tuned for all the details…

Dylan at the 2014 Tour of Tasmania. Photo: Jarrod Partridge
One of the originals. Dylan Sunderland at the 2014 Tour of Tasmania. Photo: Jarrod Partridge