The 2021 Federation University Road National Championships moved to Buninyong on Saturday with Australia’s para-cycling world champions, under 23, under 19 and cyclists in the intellectual impairment category, tackling the tough Mt Buninyong road course.
Reigning world champion Carol Cooke celebrated an eleventh straight road crown in the T2 Tricycle classification, which came after an eleventh straight time trial title last Thursday.
“It’s just so awesome to have an event to go to, mentally I think we all needed it,” said Cooke after a successful week in her return to road racing. “You can race all you want virtually, but it’s just not the same. I was racing virtually on Zwift against my competitors overseas. But I was getting up at like, 1am, to race them at 2am.
“But to be able to come to an event, even though I did not have any competitors, but to be with the team to be with all the other para cyclists too, to see of us racing. It’s just been awesome.”
“The volunteers have been amazing. The staff around the event have been amazing. Even the people in Buninyong and Ballarat have been “Oh, it’s so good to have everybody back.”
Cooke is eyeing a third Paralympic Games selection for the Tokyo Games, and a third straight time trial gold.
“I wish I had $1 for every time somebody said to me while I’ve been here, “Oh, do you think they’ll go ahead?” And everybody is asking that, but as far as we are concerned, it is going ahead.
“And it was 200 days yesterday, there are 200 days to the opening ceremony. So, you just think, Wow, 200 days, it is just going to fly by, you know.”
Stuart Jones (Newcastle Cycling Club) took gold in the men’s T2 event.
After missing last year’s road nationals following a crash in the lead into the Championships, Darren Hicks was happy to be back and on the top step of the podium.
“It was really nice to come back and actually get back in the national champs as well, but racing in general is just amazing,” said Hicks, who returned to racing at December’s Track Nationals following a long 2020 void of racing due to the COVID Pandemic.
“It is a good feeling now, after so long without racing track nationals now road nationals, but I never stopped in my world. I wanted to really keep training all the way through and we can get in some racing here which is great.”
Hicks, a 2019 world champion on both the road and track, is aiming for his maiden Paralympic Games selection in both disciplines.
“I don’t know how I would handle actually getting named in the team,” he said. “It’s been four or five year’s worth of training now that that’s the only dream that sort of keeps me on training seven days a week, three or four months at a time, I guess is what we all want. I just hope the world sorts itself out and we get a chance to compete.”
Fellow South Australian Paige Greco completed the double in the women’s C3 category.
“I just tried to ride the race the best I could. It has been really good getting back into racing, around the team and athletes face to face as well. It has been really exciting.”
Like Hicks, Greco is chasing her first Paralympic selection but has refused to let the postponement of the Games affect her preparation.
“I just focus on all the little goals that I can again, just take it like, day by day, week by week, on each training session instead of the end goal, or whatever the media is saying.”
David Nicholas (Mackay Cycling Club) secured the road race and time trial double, as did fiancé Emilie Miller (Bathurst CC) in the women’s H1 Handcycle category.
Beau Vernon (Southern Masters Cycling Club), Lauren Parker (Hunter District Cycling Club), Alex Welsh (Leongatha Cycling Club), Grant Allen (Port Adelaide Cycling Club) and Stuart Tripp (Alpine Cycling Club) also celebrated their second gold of the Championships.
In the women’s C4 event, Meg Lemon (Port Adelaide Cycling Club) took gold, while Bronwyn Dolman (Port Adelaide Cycling Club) won the C5 category.
In the intellectual impairment road races, Nathan Glarvey (Balmoral Cycling Club) added road gold to this time trial with victory in the men’s event. Glarvey covered four laps of the 10-kilometre course in 1hour 18:13secs.
Georgia Powning also claimed the double for the Championships in the women’s event. Powning, who claimed time trial gold on Wednesday, clocked 1hour 8mins across the three laps.
- Men C2 Darren HICKS (Norwood CC)
- Men C3 David NICHOLAS (Mackay Cycling Club)
- Men C4 Patrick BEST (Mersey Valley Devonport CC)
- Men C5 Michael GALLAGHER (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
- Women C3 Paige GRECO (Port Adelaide Cycling Club)
- Women C4 Meg LEMON (Port Adelaide Cycling Club)
- Women C5 Bronwyn DOLMAN (Port Adelaide Cycling Club)
- Women H1 Emilie MILLER (Bathurst CC)
- Men H1 Beau VERNON (Southern Masters Cycling Club)
- Women H3 Lauren PARKER (Hunter District Cycling Club)
- Men H3 Alex WELSH (Leongatha Cycling Club)
- Men H4 Grant ALLEN (Port Adelaide Cycling Club)
- Men H5 Stuart TRIPP (Alpine Cycling Club)
- Men T2 Stuart JONES (Newcastle Cycling Club)
- Women T2 Carol COOKE (St Kilda Cycling Club)
- Men MB Benjamin SAID (Manly Warringah CC)
- Men Intellectually Impaired Nathan GLARVEY (Balmoral Cycling Club)
- Women Intellectually Impaired Georgia POWNING (Preston Cycling Club)