Cover Photo: Gabe Nuspan
In her first year as a U17, Sophie Marr of Blackburn Cycling Club is using the 2019 season as a launching pad to learn and test herself against the top age women in the JW17 category with hopes to be selected for the Cycling Victoria State Team for the Cycling Australia Junior Road National Championships in September.
Earlier this year, Sophie represented Team Victoria at the Cycling Australia Junior Track National Championships where she was a member of the record-breaking U17 Team Pursuit team claiming the National Title and Gold Medal.
It was not her first national championships, however: “My favourite memories in cycling have to be getting my first national medal winning gold in the Individual Pursuit in under 15’s in 2018 and then later on getting gold and the Australian record in the Team Pursuit in Brisbane at Nationals earlier in the year.”
Sophie divides her time between racing on the road and the track, she is regularly seen at DISC on a Monday night for the Blackburn Cycling Club training sessions and racing in the Victorian Junior Road Series.
Last weekend, Sophie raced the Broadford Junior Grand Prix and will next week set her sights on the VeloEx Eildon Junior Tour, where she has seen success in the past. Last year Sophie finished second in the JW15 category.
“The Junior Road Series is very important to me as it is a great way to meet new people, seeing friends and there is always great courses for good competition. I didn’t want to ride until I meet some lovely girls that raced the junior tours as well.”
Before she was racing the junior tours, Sophie was being brought to the races by her parents to watch her brother Jonathan race. “Mum started riding with a work friend and then got my brother Jonathan into it. The family dragged me along to all the junior tours.”
“So, I thought I better try it myself. After a while I started to really enjoy it and haven’t looked back, I am now riding and racing for my fourth year.”
Since getting on a bike and beginning racing, Sophie is growing into a promising young woman both on the track and the road, she’s modest with her goals and is not putting too much pressure on herself at such a young age. “I’m not sure right now,” she said when asked about long-term goals in cycling, “but for the short term, it would be good to make it to as many nationals as possible and do well there. For the future, maybe get onto a road team after juniors.”
“My favourite road race at the moment is the time trial as it is a ride for yourself and if you ride a time you are happy with or not happy with it is your doing and no one else’s. Then my favourite track races are the Individual Pursuit and points race I like the long races that are painful but have a sense of joy after.”
At the VeloEx Eildon Tour, Sophie will have the opportunity to test herself against the clock with the 14.4km stage two Time Trial on Saturday morning.
The VeloEx Eildon Junior Tour attracts over 100 junior riders, their families and race volunteers to the region from Victoria and interstate (so far in 2019, interstate riders make up more than 30% of entries).
“Since its inception in 2008, this event has been well supported by the Eildon community which is greatly appreciated by all who take part,” said Race Director John Hribar, “We look forward to putting on another fantastic event, in what is widely regarded as the best and safest race of the year for junior cyclists in Victoria.”
The Eildon Junior Tour is the fourth round of the Victorian Junior Road Series and the second Victorian race of the National Junior Road Series.
The Victorian leaders of the National Junior Road Series after the METEC Grand Prix are Sophie Marr (Blackburn Cycling Club – JW17), Zac Kelly (Hawthorn Cycling Club – JM17), Belinda Bailey (Bendigo & District CC – JW15), and Jamie Coles (Bendigo & District CC – JM15).
Fourteen years ago, a dream was born out of the Blackburn Cycling Club to create a challenging road race to showcase and develop the best junior cyclist’s across Australia. The multiple stage course was conceived in search for junior riders who would one day go on to challenge the world’s best cyclist and potentially win a world-class cycling event.
World Tour cyclists from Victoria including, Chris Hamilton (Team Subweb), Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott) and retired professional Brendan Canty who rode most of his professional career with EF Education First have all recorded junior wins on the Eildon circuit.
In an interview in 2016 with David Hunter on Ciclisme Internacional, Chris said: “I won my first race as a U19 at the Eildon Junior Tour, I remember attacking and going solo with about 70km to go or something stupid and won by a couple of minutes. That was the first time I properly enjoyed road racing.”
VeloEx Eildon Junior Tour Stages
Stage one (Hill climb) J11/13: 1.7km; J15/J17: 4.7km
Stage two: (ITT) J11: 4km; J13: 8km; J15: 10km; J17: 14.4km
Stage three: (Road Race around Eildon pondage): J11: 13.3km; J13: 20.8km; J15: 30km; J17: 37.3.4km
Stage four: (Road Race up and over Skyline Road): J11: 7.7km; J13: 20km; J15: 42km; J17: 42km