AMR Renault returns in 2016

We’re delighted to announce AMR Renault will continue its association with the team for a second year, after reaffirming its commitment for the 2016 road racing season, including the National Road Series.

 

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“The team has had a fantastic year in 2015 with AMR Renault on board,” said a delighted Team Director, Russell Menzies. “We’ve made huge strides in the past 12 months as a squad and are on the cusp of even bigger things next season. The continued commitment from Luigi and the team at AMR Renault is a hugely important part of achieving that. The team cars have been superb and even better the guys also love their cycling – and rest assured we love them too!”

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As was the case for the 2015 season – when the team received the keys to a bespoke Renault Megane wagon and Trafic commercial van, a key part of the 2016 AMR Renault sponsorship will again include the provision of official team vehicles – a vital contribution given the very nature of the NRS involves vast amounts of time on the road each season.

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According to Menzies, beyond AMR Renault’s continued sponsorship a series of new partners will be announced for 2016 in the coming weeks.

“Success breeds success, no question,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of interest following our results this season, especially in the second half of the year, both from potential sponsors, suppliers and riders. The quality of contacts has been sky high too, which is always a nice position to be in. As things are finalised we’ll be releasing the news, so stay tuned!”

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AMR Renault is based at Haberfield in Sydney’s inner west.

 

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.

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)

NRS kicks back into gear

The month of August doesn’t just mean winter is on its last legs. It also means the traditional NRS mid-year break is nearly over, with the series set to kick back into gear with a busy second half of the year. According to Team Director, Russell Menzies, the AMR Renault Racing boys are raring to go.

 

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Dylan and Matt have seen plenty of cobbles – and success – over in Belgium (Photo: Heidi Lannoo Photography)

“The season always has a bit of a winter break, but this year it’s been exacerbated by the cancellations of both the Gippsland and Murray tours. That was unfortunate, but the one upside is the opportunity it’s given our guys to train and race hard closer to home,” he said. “Except, of course, for Dylan and Matt who’ve been doing the team proud over in Belgium with multiple top 10s, several podiums and a fine win for Dylan last month. The break’s been a great chance for the guys to sort out any niggles and recharge their batteries for what promises to be a pretty full-on climax to the 2015 domestic season.”

The next NRS outing for AMR Renault Racing will be the 4-stage Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley from 21-23 August, recently upgraded to full NRS status. It’s then all systems go for the National Capital Tour in Canberra.

“Like many of the squads we’ll be using Canberra as a key build-up race for the Tour of Tasmania,” explains Menzies. “We’ll certainly be sending a powerful team down to Tassie, loaded with climbers of course, it’s a real highlight of the season for us. We’ll be defending the polkadot jersey we claimed in 2014, together with top 10 finishes on both the overall and young rider classifications, and top 5 placing on the team’s classification.”

The NRS season then rounds out with two brutal one-day tests in mid-October – the Melbourne to Warrnambool and Grafton to Inverell classics.

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NRS Review: Tour of Toowoomba & Battle on the Border

The recent NRS double header saw the guys race at the Tour of Toowoomba and Battle on the Border. Here’s a review of how it all went…

 

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The AMR Renault Racing Team opened up their 2015 NRS season with the Tour of Toowoomba and Battle on the Border double. After opting to skip the earlier Perth and Adelaide tours, we had a motivated group of seven riders, equipped with brand-new Ridleys courtesy of Bike Bug, itching to get stuck into our first NRS race of the year.

First up was Toowoomba and the boys, based at Jolly Swagman Motel, had a bit of a rough week. The team made a conservative start to a tough two weeks of racing, despite missing the decisive break on the opening stage they finished strongly in the front part of the peloton.

From day two things started to turn slightly pear shaped. After a solid performance from Matt Slee in the mornings TT, the afternoon’s 167km road stage was where it all happened. The Peloton had to contend with strong winds, lumpy terrain and challenging gravel sections. A bit of bad luck and positioning saw Josh, Dylan and Toby hit the deck in the late stages of the race, ending their chances to contest the finish. Tim finished strongly just 25 secs behind the winner after the peloton blew to pieces over the final climb and gravel roads.

There were glimpses of what the team is capable of on a very challenging stage four. Strong riding from Matt and Tim and a late attack from Josh netted him a 14th place on the stage, however the bad luck for Dylan continued as he crashed again, ending his tour while Cam and Toby also had to abandon. This left the team with only four riders, not particularly suited to the final stage criterium but we were involved in some of the breaks regardless. At the end of the 5 stages, Tim was our best placed on GC in 38th and we made the trip to the coast for the Battle on the Border with a few battered bodies and bikes.

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Checking into Crystal Beach apartments in Tugan was a great result before the Battle even started. With spacious beachfront rooms the team enjoyed a relaxing three days and the same seven riders started the Battle on the Boarder in great shape.

The opening stage provided a confidence boost, getting three riders to the top of Mt Warning ahead of all but two teams! Tim and Josh finished 11th and 13th respectively with Dylan not far behind. This put AMR Renault Racing into 3rd on the overall team’s classification which we held until the final day.

Throughout stage 2 and 3 the team rode aggressively, getting involved in the majority of the breaks. Particularly Aaron, Matt and Dylan sniffing opportunities for stage success, unfortunately none quite paying off. A standout performance was Toby Orchard in his first year in the NRS working tirelessly for the team collecting bottles and finishing 11th in a fast stage 3 sprint into Murwillumbah.

Going into the final day’s TT and criterium, Tim and Josh were both eyeing top 10 spots on GC, but unfortunately slipping to 12th and 15th respectively. (the team ultimately finished 5th on the overal classification, a solid result).

There were a huge amount of positives from the past two weeks, becoming tighter as a team with every race. Matt, Aaron and Cam were always in the mix at the pointy end of the peloton. Dylan and Toby, who are barely 19 stepped up to much longer NRS distances with ease. Tim and Josh showing they have the experience and capability for overall top 10’s. This gives us plenty to look forward to when the NRS returns in Spring.

A big thanks to our support team Russell, Kris and Pete Sunderland for taking time off work and away from their families to support us. And to all our sponsors AMR Renault, Bikebug, Piazza D’Oro, Lidcombe-Auburn CC, Tineli, Cellarbrations, Signwave and Active Supps.

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.”

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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

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…
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“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.

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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).”

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

DESTINATION TOOWOOMBA : 2015 OCEANIAS

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AMR Renault Racing Team heads north for this weekend’s 2015 Oceania Road Cycling Championships in Toowoomba brimming with confidence following a solid start to the 2015 road season. With the Elite and U23 road races being staged together it will be the first time the bulk of the NRS squad have raced as a unit in 2015, ensuring strength in numbers and the on-road opportunities those numbers can create.

Riders to watch include kiwi Josh Aldridge, fresh from securing 12th on overall GC at the five-stage New Zealand Cycling Classic, and the quality Under 23 trio of Laurie Groom, Matt Slee and Dylan Sunderland, all of whom raced at the 2015 Mars Australian Road National Championships in Ballarat.

“With the Bay Crits and Nationals, January was a great hit-out for most of the squad and an excellent chance for the younger guys to learn from, and race with, the best,” said AMR Renault Racing Team Director Russell Menzies. “After a freshen up back at home, the boys are fired up for Toowoomba, especially Josh Aldridge and Laurie Groom who had some bad luck with mechanicals in their respective National road races. Dylan (Sunderland) always go well up there too, it’s pretty much his backyard hailing from Inverell, he knows those roads as well as anyone.”

Without doubt the team’s busiest rider at the Oceanias will be Aaron Watts, who will compete on all three days. Friday and Saturday see Watts partnering with dual Paralympic medalist, Bryce Lindores, in the tandem time trial and road races. Then on Sunday it’s the Elite Men’s road race with the rest of his AMR Renault racing team-mates.

AMR Renault Racing Team – 2015 Oceania Road Championships:
Joshua Aldridge, Laurie Groom, Dylan Sunderland, Matt Slee, Cameron Fraser, Toby Orchard, Aaron Watts.

Busy weekend in store for Aaron Watts, who will be racing on all three days including the Para Cycling events with Bryce Lindores.
Busy weekend in store for Aaron Watts, who will be racing on all three days including both Para Cycling events with dual Paralympic medalist, Bryce Lindores.