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…

 

11204425_544183109053047_3720158420224960913_n

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.

11113601_543539305784094_7357514345782414354_n

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.

Advertisements

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