21 December 2018
It was a huge first season in the UCI (Cycling’s International governing body) Oceania Tour for the Oliver’s Racing team. After 5 years at the national level, 2018 saw the team take the step up to Continental level, which allowed them to take part in one of the biggest races on the Australian calendar: The Herald Sun Tour, as well as a handful of other pro-races abroad in Asia and Europe. The team also had a strong focus throughout the year on the Australian National Road Series (NRS), finishing runner up in the series. There was also was one UCI level victory, which you can read about below!
Today’s Plan caught up with the Oliver’s manager Sam Layzell in the team’s home base in Canberra to chat about the team’s season, the highs and the lows, and the numbers!
Sam, the 2018 season was really the step into the big show for the team. Can you tell us what was the reason for stepping up to UCI Continental level this year?
Well, we felt it was the right time, and it was simply a case of following the team’s narrative of growth and progression. We started contemplating the Continental licence for the 2017 season, but decided to wait, give it another year of development and perform well in the NRS, thus securing a top 4 finish in the NRS rankings and subsequently receiving an invitation to the Herald Sun Tour. We had a good 2017, won an NRS tour, also won the Jelajah Malaysia and those strong results told us we were ready, both as a team and as an organisation.
2018 started well for you guys, we should ask you now then: What was your proudest moment from the season?
Haha, I think I get the hint! So our first UCI race as a UCI Continental Team was the New Zealand Cycle Classic in January. Stage 1, a group of 10 riders go away and stay away to fight out the stage win. The group included our boys Nick Reddish and Jack Sutton. The boys rode it perfectly, and Reddish attacked with just over 1.5kms to go and won the stage! So there we were, our first ever race as a Continental team, and we won it! As many will know Nick Reddish is a Kiwi, so to see him win a stage, and then go on to lead the race with the support of the rest of the team, was very special. Especially because it was Nick, who has been such a loyal and committed team player all of his career. It will be something he can remember for the rest of his life. So it was really special.
In a close second is of course Nick White’s maiden stage win at the Tour of Gippsland. That was also a very proud moment. Especially because we got a little unlucky on the previous 2 stages in the gallop. I remember that morning how motivated the boys were, we had a meeting and we just laid out a plan, and then they executed it to perfection! We weren’t the team that did the most work that day that’s for sure, but we were the team that won. So that was also special.
So they are the two highs from the year. How about the low point?
I would have to say the Herald Sun Tour. Although it was the biggest race of the year and by far the best field we competed in, we simply had some terrible luck! Stage 1 we had 2 of the guys crash badly, and then we had another 2 flat tyres. It was almost comical! We even had position 13 in the convoy that day!
From there, we had another big crash on stage 2, Rien Schuurhuis snapped a bike in half. Plus Ben Andrews crashed for the second time in 2 days. Stage 3 we “only” had 2 flats. Including one in the neutral zone which took one guy out of hunting for an early breakaway. All in all, it was bad luck, which then fed on itself, and I admit, I didn’t manage the situation very well at all. We had a stressful final stage around Kinglake where we had another 2 flats, plus Nick White hitting the tarmac early, and we were done!
So, I would say “one to forget”…but really we don’t want to forget. We want to learn, improve and do it better in 2019.
We know you are a big numbers man! Can you share some of your “number highlights” from the season?
Well, obviously I won’t be able to give away specific numbers on the guys, but perhaps we can feature them in a later blog or something. I’ll list 5 quickly that spring to mind:
1. Nick White’s average power on the uphill time trial up Mt Baw Baw on stage 4 of the Tour of Gippsland.
2. Kai Chapman’s max power in any sprint. I saw a 1950w at one race!
3. Jack Sutton’s power at the end of stage 3 of le Tour de Filipinas
4. Tom Bolton’s ride at the Amy’s Otway criterium
5. Carsten Chapman’s power across the 3 days of the Tour of Sri Lanka. The big man did some work sitting out in the wind!
The Oliver’s Real Food Racing Season:
Team competes in Australian National Road Championships. Followed by the New Zealand Cycle Classic, where Nick Reddish claims the opening stage and spends 3 days in the race leaders yellow jersey.
The team’s first ever Jayco Herald Sun Tour is marred by 3 crashes, injuries and a number of mechanicals. Ryan Christensen manages a top 10 on stage 2 of the race into Ballarat and team is still well represented in a number of breakaways.
Squad collects 9 UCI points at the Oceania Road titles in Tasmania. Nick Reddish is selected in New Zealand national team and competes in 3 Nations Cup events in Belgium. 18 year old Kai Chapman wins the NSW criterium championships, followed by the Orica Kermesse a week later.
Clinton Edwards takes 3rd place at the NSW Road Championships. He also takes the King of the Mountain jersey at the Blayney to Bathurst event.
The team travels to Asia for 2 UCI stage races in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. 2 podiums and 8 top 10 finishes. Campbell Jones best young rider at Sri Lanka tour.
Nick White finishes 7 th at the opening round of National Road Series back home: Grafton to Inverell.
Two podiums in 2 days at Connabarabran-Gunnedah-Tamworth weekend in NSW.
7 Oliver’s riders travel to Belgium to compete in 3 x UCI races and a number of pro-kermesse races during the Australian winter break in the season.
King of the Mountains, 3rd in final stage and 5th place overall for Nick White at the second round of the National Road Series.
A strong showing from the team at the recommencement of the National Road Series at The Tour of Great South Coast: Nick White finishes the race in 3 rd place overall and wins the King of the Mountains Classification. This is followed by another two podium finishes on stage 3 & 4, which secures second place overall at the 3 day, 4 stage Tour of King Valley. Ben Marshall also takes the most aggressive rider jersey for his ride on the stage 3 Strade Nero (dirt road) stage.
The team totally dominates the two days of NSW country racing in Tamworth. Kai Chapman and Tom Bolton finishing 1st and 2nd in both the criterium and the road race. It is then onto a hard weekend of racing in bad weather at the Amy’s Otway Tour. The squad comes away with podium finishes on both stages, and 4th place overall.
Ben Andrews finishes 6th overall in the 9 day, 11 stage tour of New Caledonia. He is second in the best young rider classification. The team score 3 podium finishes in total on stages.
It’s then back home for the Tour of Gippsland. Nick White wins his first ever NRS stage in Sale on stage 3 of the tour. He manages podium finishes on three of the four stages and finishes the tour in second place overall. Just 6 seconds behind the winner.
Sebastian Presley finishes top 10 overall at the Tour of Tasmania and wins the best young rider classification. Another podium finish on stage 3 secures second place overall for Nick White in the National Road Series.