Isabelle Carnes has wasted little time adjusting to the senior ranks, winning the U23 Women’s Individual Time Trial National Championship at her first attempt, and finishing seventh among the elite women.
The 18-year-old was one of three teenagers on the U23 podium, joined by her first-year U23 teammate Lucinda Stewart and 19-year-old Haylee Fuller.
Carnes, who finished eighth in the UCI Road World Championships Junior Women’s Individual Time Trial in Wollongong last September, said the toughest aspect of the jump up in category was the extra lap.
“It’s a very big step up but I’m super excited,” Carnes said.
“It was definitely tough having to do two laps of that course compared to just the one last year.
“It added such a different element and I was really big on trying to pace it correctly knowing the kind of rider I am and I felt I did that really and am really stoked to come away with the win in the end.
“The biggest thing for me was just trying to get in with the elites and see where I fit in with the mix.”
The rising star from Brisbane said she wanted to match it with her elite heroes as best she could while soaking in the moment of her first year alongside them.
“I’ve idolised these girls for years … watching Grace Brown finish there, and I knew Georgie Howe would be a weapon,” Carnes said.
“So, I was looking at their times from previous years trying to work out what kind of pacing I should do and where I could fit in and was really stoked to be somewhere … not quite close but still there.”
Carnes’ focus now turns to what she has described as an “incredible” calendar for the ARA Skip Capital women, starting this Saturday at the Santos Tour Down Under.
“The team has a great program for the year ahead. We have a ride potentially at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race too,” Carnes said.
“And then we’ll head over to Europe, where we’ve been invited to some really big races over there, which you guys will see soon.
“The team has just got such an incredible calendar that I’m looking forward to race to get more exposure.”
When Alastair MacKellar said he wanted to make amends for a quiet 2022 season he meant it.
The 20-year-old Sunshine Coast product capped off a gargantuan 2023 Road Nationals campaign with another big win in the U23 Men’s Individual Time Trial National Championship on the final day of racing.
It was another explosive indicator of the enormous potential housed in the legs of the Israel Cycling Academy rider, with the chasm to silver medallist Oliver Bleddyn (ARA Skip Racing) one minute and 25 seconds, followed by a further 10 seconds to bronze medallist Zac Marriage (Team BridgeLane).
MacKellar raced around the 28.6km course at an average speed of 46.6km/h, stopping the clock at 36:49.28 – two minutes and 19 seconds faster than his last time out at Federation University in 2021.
“I honestly didn’t come here with the intention of this, so to be able to pull it off is pretty special,” MacKellar said.
“It (the power numbers) is actually exactly what I was targeting, so to be able to execute on the day was perfect and what I aim for.
“I’ve never targeted a TT this much.
“As a junior, I did a couple (TTs) but I really wanted to target this time trial and went all in with equipment and training for it.”
The past few days in Ballarat have been a small, but loud sample size of the continuing development of MacKellar, who in 2021 won a stage of the UCI 2.2 categorised GP Internacional Torres Vedras – Trofeu Joaquim Agostinhoas as a 19-year-old and represented Australia at the 2021 UCI Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium in the Men’s U23 Road Race.
Now in his third year with Israel Cycling Academy, MacKellar said he is still locking down what type of racing best suits his attributes.
“I’m not a pure climber, I get chopped by the skinny guys in Europe but I’m a bit of an all-rounder I’d like to say – still working it out myself,” MacKeller said.
“They’ve (Israel Cycling Academy/Israel-Premier Tech) been a great help and it’s a great development program and they race me a lot interchangeably with the UCI Continental and UCI Pro Team, so I’m getting lots of experience with them.”
An immediate test of whether the Queenslander can hit the ground running awaits him in Europe after jetting back to the continent on Wednesday.
“Off tomorrow for a training camp for a week and then I think a one-week race in Valencia to start it (the European season) off,” MacKellar said.