As he chases the possibility of a pro contract, Inverell cyclist Dylan Sunderland has already set a fast pace in his first two races of the year.
Sunderland came just short of a medal in the searing heat of Buninyong in Saturday’s Road National Championships under 23 road race after taking home a silver in Wedneday’s criterium.
“It’s been one of my major goals for the national championships, to start the year with some solid results, and that really set the platform for the whole year,” he said.
Saturday was a challenge for Sunderland, with the race distance shortened from 140 to 92.8km as a result of extreme heat and high fire risk.
“I was more suited to a longer race,” he admitted.
The peloton was aggressive from the starter’s gun. By the end of lap one, a breakaway had a 44 second lead.
As cross winds and intense heat thinned the sluggish peloton, a chase group led by Sunderland and 2017 champion, Armidale’s Sam Jenner formed. But as the breakaway’s lead extended, Cyrus Monk took matters into his own hands – bridging first from the peloton to the chasers and then onto the lead group.
Monk took home gold, while Sunderland flew past the finish line less than 30 seconds later in fourth place.
The fastest finisher in the Bennelong SwissWellness Cycling Team p/b Cervelo, Sunderland was followed closely by Jason Lea, but two team mates failed to finish the tough race.
“A really hard day and I was happy with how I performed. There was a few little mistakes on the day, but that’s just racing and you’ve got to deal with it and move on,” Sunderland said.
He is planning a possible trip to New Zealand in upcoming weeks, and aims to take on the Herald Sun tour in Melbourne next month.
“It’s shaping up to be a good year,” he said.
“I’m aiming to get some really big results and hopefully crack the pro contract at the end of the year.”
Jenner finished in 12th while Inverell’s Callum Dolby was 36th and fellow Inverell product Ryan Thomas 24th in the elite race.