If there were any thoughts that St George Cycling Club was no longer a major player in national and international cycling then surely they have dissipated over the last fortnight.
The historic club enjoyed an outstanding National Track Championships on the Gold Coast where St George’s 13 cyclists made up half of the NSW team.
Triple world champion Kaarle McCulloch won her 13th national title gold medal winning the 500 metre time trial in Australian Championship record time. McCulloch then proceeded to win silver in the team sprint with Selina Ho as her club teammate made her debut in elite racing at the national titles, before adding a silver in the Keirin and a bronze medal in the sprint.
Ashlee Ankudinoff, also a multiple world champion, was solid in victory over Olympian Amy Cure in the 3000 metre pursuit with a smashing time of 3 minutes, 31.064 seconds.
Ankudinoff and McCulloch have set their sights on the Commonwealth Games with both women maintaining a heavy training campaign in the lead up to the nationals, with their main focus being the games in April on the same velodrome.
Ankudinoff also finished third in the points race and picked up another bronze in the teams pursuit.
The under-19 riders were also in great form with Zac Marshall and John Trovas combining with Southern Cross star Thomas Cornish to win the gold medal in the team sprint. Cornish backed up that effort to also win the time trial with a sensational performance before picking up silver in the sprint and a bronze in the keirin.
Daniel Gandy, the rising St George under-19 star, had an incredibley tough campaign racing in multiple events with outstanding results. Gandy finished second in the 10 kilometre under-19 race after finishing third in the team pursuit, combining with St George teammates Rohan Haydon-Smith and Thomas Lynch.
Lynch and Gandy also finished a close second in the Australian 40k Madison and just missed out on a medal finishing fourth in the 30k points race. Lynch was also one place behind with Haydon-Smith in seventh place.
Marshall, apart from his gold medal in the team sprint, also managed third in the 10 kilometre title. Marshall has shown great form this year and won the most famous race in Australia – the Austral in Melbourne just before Christmas.
The St George elite men had a tougher time when world champion Nic Yallouris crashed heavily in the opening round of the four kilometre team pursuit when fellow St George team-mate Cameron Scott suffered a puncture at high speed and bumped into Yallouris.
Another St George rider Ben Harvey did well to miss the carnage but for Yallouris it was the end of what could have been a promising series, especially not being able to defend his national one kilometre title.
Scott continued to race and took the bronze medal in the kilometre time trial title in an impressive time of 1.01.80. It was a great back up to his under-23s national criterium championship that he won in January, making him an outstanding versatile rider.
Tess Wallace, racing her first national titles, did well to win a silver medal in the women’s under-19 teams pursuit.
While St George stars were racing hard on the velodrome, the St George continental team started their 2018 international campaign with third place overall in the Tour of Indonesia.
Racing against a top level field in the category 2.1 on the Union Cycliste International calendar, the St George team were never out of the mix and had riders in every breakaway with Ben Dyball taking eighth place overall.
The performance was off the back of a successful race in China’s Tour of Quanzhou Bay in December where the team finished second overall in the team’s classification. Apart from the team classification, which is based on the best three riders in the team on each stage, Dyball managed a great fourth placing overall with Jay Dutton finishing 12th.
Former Olympic bronze medallist and Commonwealth Games champion Brett Dutton said it was important to have pathways for the club’s cyclists.
“Apart from our dominance on the track, the invitations to our continental team on the road are coming thick and fast from major promoters due to the success of the team,” he said.
“It has taken a few years to get to the level that the team is now enjoying but the effort has been worth it. Last year the team raced four times in China, three visits to Indonesia and the same in Japan. In the last twelve months we have had some outstanding success and [we’re] building our name as a major force.”
The St George continental team have also received an invitation to attend the Tour of Langkawi and the Tour of Thailand, the biggest events in Asia.
The club, founded in 1921, has a history steeped in national representation and dominance dating back to the late Dunc Gray, a life member and Australia’s first ever Olympic champion. There has not been an Australian team compete at Olympic or Commonwealth Games level since 1956 without a St George representative in the team.