Big things tipped for cycling duo

TWO of Tasmania's most promising young cyclists are among those entrusted with extending Australia's golden record at the under-23 world championships.

The nation has podiumed at the last five time trial titles, winning three golds, and the man expected to continue that run believes Launceston's Alex Clements and Hobart's Campbell Flakemore have the potential to keep the medals coming.

Cycling Australia's World Tour Academy and under-23 road coach, James Victor, caught up with both riders in Launceston this week and said the pressure is on to continue a phenomenal sequence highlighted by wins to Jack Bobridge (2009), Luke Durbridge (2011) and Damien Howson this year when Flakemore also finished fourth.

``We've got a bit of a reputation now,'' Victor said. ``We've won three of the last five time trial world titles and everyone uses us as the benchmark.

``Campbell finished fourth this year, just 12 seconds off a medal. I've had a look at next year's course and think it will suit him better. It's a bit lumpy towards the end and he's a bit of a fighter. This year it was fast and flat and also it was his first worlds, which has an impact.''

Products of both the Tasmanian Institute of Sport and Andrew Christie-Johnston's Hobart-based Genesys team, the Tasmanians were named in the WTA's inaugural eight-man squad in March alongside the likes of Howson, London Olympian Alex Edmondson and last week's Launceston Classic winner Caleb Ewan.

They completed their first full seasons in Europe and are ready for another campaign based near the Australian Institute of Sport's European training centre in northern Italy.

``We're trying to expose these guys to different cultures and styles of racing and trying to operate as a continental team,'' Victor explained.

``For Campbell to finish fourth in the world champs in his first full season is a great progression and a lot of the results that Caleb Ewan achieved in Europe were as a result of the significant support he provided. 

``He is a super reliable member of the group and going into his last year as an under-23 so it will be a big step the following year. But based on this year, his progress has been outstanding.

``Alex has learned a lot since coming into cycling three years ago and is in his first full year.

``Their benefit going back to Europe is they've been exposed to it already so have the right mindset in place and there should be a lot less variables to deal with. They know what level it's all about and ultimately whether this is what they want to make a career out of.''

Victor said the WTA was a stepping stone between juniors and the pro cycling ranks, which seeks to fill the gap for 19-23 year olds hoping to turn pro.

The academy will co-ordinate its riders' programs for six months from March through to the under-23 road world championships, which will be held in Ponferrada in the Castile-Leon region of Spain.

AUSTRALIA AT U23 WORLD TIME TRIAL

2009 in Mendrisio, Switzerland: GOLD Jack Bobridge 

2010 in Geelong, Australia: SILVER Luke Durbridge 

2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark: GOLD Luke Durbridge, BRONZE Michael Hepburn 

2012 in Valkenburg, Netherlands: SILVER Rohan Dennis, BRONZE Damien Howson 

2013 in Florence, Italy: GOLD Damien Howson 

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