Capital's riders are making their mark on the national stage
Michael Matthews. Photo: Karleen Minney
Newly crowned national champion Gracie Elvin claims Canberra's cycling community is one of the most close-knit in the world, as ACT riders finished the national road cycling championships in Victoria with three Australian titles and seven medals.
Canberra's Michael Matthews, known as Bling, put another medal around his neck with silver in Sunday's men's road race. It adds to the bronze in the men's time trial last week.
Matthews' result completed an impressive haul by ACT riders, highlighted by Elvin's victory in the women's road race.
Gracie Elvin. Photo: Mark Gunter
Elvin also took bronze in the national criterium race, behind Canberra winner Kimberley Wells. ACT riders also enjoyed success in the young rider categories, with Ailie McDonald winning the under-23 women's time trial and Rebecca Henderson - who has switched from mountain biking to road racing - claiming silver in the under-23 women's road race.
All five riders have come through the ACT Academy of Sport and Elvin, who only turned professional this year, said it was a great reward for Canberra's small cycling community.
''I've travelled a lot with my cycling and I've never seen anywhere else in the world that has such a close-knit cycling community as we do in Canberra,'' she said. ''I love being back in Canberra and training. I'm probably the fittest when I'm back at home because there's so many good riders to push me.''
ACTAS cycling coach Glenn Doney said it had been one of the ACT's most successful national championship events.
''It shows we've got some good depth throughout the ranks, both at the elite level but also some of the younger ones coming through,'' he said. ''You've got perfect conditions here, so many great places for road riding, I think it's the reason we do so well. Rarely can you go anywhere where it's flat, so we tend to produce so many good road riders because of the terrain.''
Western Australia's Luke Durbridge, 21, was the undisputed star of the championships, near Ballarat, winning the men's road race on Sunday on top of his victory in the time trial.
But Matthews can be satisfied with his first major event riding for Orica-GreenEDGE. The 22-year-old was under pressure to try to secure a start in the Tour Down Under, starting on January 20.
''Hopefully the results he's got have been enough to secure that berth and build upon that,'' Doney said.
''He's looking at bigger things around July, he'll ride his first grand tour, the Giro d'Italia, and the team is targeting a couple of the flatter stages in that for him to try and win.''
Elvin will return to Canberra on Monday to begin a training camp with her new Orica-AIS team before competing at the Tour of Qatar later this month.
The 24-year-old was looking forward to riding with the national champion's jersey in Europe this year, having only made the transition from mountain biking a year ago.