New year, new faces

It’s been a busy off-season for AMR Renault Racing (aren’t they all?) and we’re excited to welcome back the core of our 2015 squad plus some great new talent for the 2016 road season. Click the “Riders” link in the top menu to find out more about who’ll be sporting the AMR colours in 2016.

 

 

Season debut @ Ballarat

The off-season is nearing an end. 2016 bursts to life next week with AMR Renault Racing strongly represented in the Elite and U23 fields at the Mars 2016 Australian National Championships, while across the Tasman Josh will also be in action at the NZ Nationals in Napier. Several of the guys will then line up for the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic towards the end of January. We wish them all well.

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After 3 years Sunderland takes the next step

It is with equal doses of pride and sadness we have to announce one of AMR Renault Racing’s foundation riders, Dylan Sunderland, will be leaving the squad in 2016 with one eye firmly fixed on Europe.

 

“Clearly we’re sad to see Dylan move on after three years, he’s been such a fantastic rider for us,” said Team Director Russell Menzies. “But having played a role in helping him develop from a talented U19 in 2012 to now be one of the most exciting prospects in the country is also very satisfying. It’s an affirmation we’re on the right path and in many ways is exactly why this team was established in the first place, to provide opportunities for guys just like Dylan.”

“Of course as one chapter ends, another begins, and Dylan’s departure will obviously provide some great opportunities for other guys to really shine in 2016,” adds Menzies. “We’re also bringing some exciting new riders and sponsors on board – as well as the continuation of our fantastic major sponsor from 2015, AMR Renault – so while some of the names may change we still expect to be right there when the whips are cracking next season!”

In his time with AMR Renault Racing (formerly Cellarbrations Racing Team) Sunderland secured several of the team’s highest profile results since it was formed in 2012. This included claiming multiple medals at NSW State U19 and U23 Championship level, winning the 2013 Keegan Downs Sundowner Handicap, and most recently finishing third on overall GC and first U23 at the Jayco Tour of Tasmania.

The team wishes Dylan, along with his father Peter who’s been a tremendous supporter of the team since 2012, the very best for the future. We’ll be following the continued progression of Dylan’s career with the keenest of interest. His final race for the team will be at the 2015 Tour of Bright from 4-6 December where it wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest if he was once again on the podium.

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Jacarandas, Sapphires & Bikes : G2I 2015

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It’s been an exciting second half of the season for AMR Renault Racing, and this Saturday the team will round out its involvement in the 2015 National Road Series with the time-honoured Grafton to Inverell Classic. It will be our second involvement in the famously gruelling race that begins at sea level under a blanket of purple in the Jacaranda City of Grafton, climbs the 1,100m Gibraltar Range, traverses constant undulations en route to Glen Innes before ending 228km from the coast in the Sapphire City of Inverell.

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2014 G2I combatants Matt Slee and Aaron Watts will return once again, where they will be joined by Ben Carman, Tim Cameron and guest rider Matt Rizutto. In a nice piece of history Saturday will also see the team boast not one but two Inverell-based riders for the first time, with the experienced John Freiberg to be joined by G2I debutant Dylan Sunderland, fresh from his maiden ride in last weekend’s Melbourne to Warnambool.
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One of the more motivated riders in the elite field will no doubt be our very own Matt Slee. In one of the biggest shows of courage and determination we’ve ever seen on two wheels, Matty spent more than half of last year’s G2I in the race-winning breakaway alongside eventual winner Sean Lake, only to have his ambitions cruelled by Di2 shifting troubles which left him stuck in one agonising gear for more than 100km. He was only reeled in by the bunch in the closing stages and still recorded a highly respectable time. Hopefully with a far smoother ride, Matty can exorcise some demons in 2015.
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No gears? No problems for Matty Slee in 2014.
While G2I marks the end of the NRS for 2015 the team will continue to make its presence felt in the final months of the year at the Wollongong and Noosa Crits, as well as the 2015 Tour of Bright.

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

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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.

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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)

NRS season heads south

Buoyed by strong recent showings, AMR Renault Racing returns to the scene of its finest performance of the 2014 National Road Series from October 6-11 for the 2015 Jayco Tour of Tasmania.

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The gruelling 6-stage tour is the jewel in the annual NRS crown and without doubt one of the toughest stage races on the domestic racing calendar, a prospect that has Team Director Russell Menzies brimming with optimism.

“This year’s squad for Tasmania has an excellent blend of youth and experience, with most of the guys having raced there in 2014 as well as being part of last month’s National Capital Tour,” said Team Director Russell Menzies. “But even more importantly we know our guys are race hard, and very much suited to the tougher races like Tasmania. Dylan (1st, U23) and Tim (6th, Elite) rode superbly at the recent NSW Championships near Goulburn – despite both crashing pretty hard on stage two in Canberra. John, Aaron, Matty and Ben have also proven they’re in good shape for what promises to be an unforgiving week of racing. There’s nowhere to hide in Tassie – and as we saw last year that really suits us.”

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In the 2014 Tour of Tasmania, Dylan Sunderland finished 6th in the Young Rider classification, while the team claimed 5th overall, as well as taking out the King of the Mountains jersey. The 2015 race begins next Tuesday with a 2km prologue at the Baskerville Raceway in North Hobart.

AMR Renault Racing squad: 
Dylan Sunderland (U23), Tim Cameron, John Freiberg, Matt Slee, Aaron Watts, Ben Carman (U23). DS: Russell Menzies.

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2015 Jayco Tour of Tasmania:
Prologue: 2km, Baskerville Raceway, Tuesday, October 6
Stage 1: 120km, Strathgordon to New Norfolk, Wednesday, October 7
Stage 2: 106km, Ulverstone to Penguin, Thursday, October 8
Stage 3: 120km, East Devonport to George Town, Friday, October 9
Stage 4: 93km, Launceston to Grindelwald, Saturday, October 10
Stage 5: 48km, Symmons Plains Criterium Sunday, October 11.

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PHOTOS: Carbon Addiction

Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley

AMR Renault Racing will send a strong squad of six to next week’s Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley (NRS) in Victoria.

 

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2015 regulars Tim Cameron, Aaron Watts and U23 Toby Orchard will be at the start line in the famed wine region, together with team captain Kris Johnston who’ll be making his season debut – his first NRS race since becoming a dad earlier this year. The quartet will be joined by two highly-credentialed guest riders from Queensland, John Freiberg and Ben Carman.

After training alongside current team-members Aaron Watts and Dylan Sunderland since a recent move to Inverell, former Budget Forklifts rider John Freiberg brings with him a wealth of NRS and international riding experience that saw him riding across Europe for the elite Italian squad Team Parolin when still just U19. John has also placed in the top 10 at both U23 and Elite level at the Australian National Road Championships. Most recently he’s been competing in the 2015 QLD Road Series.

John Freiberg competing in round one of this year's QLD Road Series.
John Freiberg competing in round one of this year’s QLD Road Series.

Former Queensland U19 Road Champion and National U19 bronze medallist Ben Carman also joins the squad for the trip to Victoria. Still an U23, Ben has raced internationally in both Europe and Asia. He’s also lined up in multiple NRS events over the past few seasons. He’s recently returned from a racing stint overseas and prior to that was also competing in the 2015 QLD Road Series.

Ben Carman, winning.
Ben Carman, winning.

The 4-stage Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley begins next Friday, 21 August, with a short individual time trial at Whitfield, south of Wangaratta.

AMR Renault Racing Squad:
Kris Johnston
Tim Cameron
Aaron Watts
Toby Orchard
John Freiberg (guest)
Ben Carman (guest)

High hopes for FKG Tour of Toowoomba

AMR Renault Racing will make its 2015 National Road Series debut in the FKG Tour of Toowoomba starting tomorrow.

After skipping the first two races on the NRS calendar in Perth and Adelaide, a full squad of seven riders has been assembled for the four-day five-stage tour. With several riders showing excellent early season form, led by kiwi Josh Aldridge and the rapidly-maturing Dylan Sunderland from nearby Inverell, expectations are high for 2015 – especially after the team surprised plenty in its first full season in the NRS in 2014.

“We’re going into Toowoomba with high expectations this year,” said AMR Renault Racing Team Director Russell Menzies. “We’ve been there before, we know the roads, and with a core of really strong and in-form riders I’d go as far as saying we’re looking for a top team position. We did it in Tasmania last year, so that’s not out of reach. Who knows? Maybe even a podium or two, certainly high finishing places on the stages.”

AMR _ Tour of Toowoomba 2015

Looking towards this race and the following week’s Battle on the Border, Menzies sees the versatility within the 2015 squad as a major strength. “We have several genuine cards to play this season, which is a great position to be in. All the guys are stronger for the experience of 2014. Obviously we’re expecting guys like Josh and Dylan to be thereabouts, but even guys like Matt Slee and Tim Cameron. They can really make their presence felt and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see them right in the thick of things. It’s also great to see a young guy like Toby Orchard step up to make his NRS debut, he’s been with us for a couple of seasons now and it’s time for him to show what he’s made of.”

Stage One of the FKG Tour of Toowoomba is an undulating 153km road race from Nobby to Highfields. It will be followed by a double stage day on Friday, with a 9km Individual Time Trial in the morning and a 162km road race in the afternoon before the Tour reaches its finale with another two stages over the weekend, including the now-traditional Sunday criterium around Queens Park.

 

Squad for FKG Tour of Toowoomba:
Joshua Aldridge, Dylan Sunderland, Matt Slee, Aaron Watts, Tim Cameron, Cameron Fraser, Toby Orchard (NRS debut).

Team Managers: Kris Johnston & Peter Sunderland
Team Director: Russell Menzies

FKG Tour of Toowoomba

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…

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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