Echuca-Moama Cycling Club will host its Junior Track Carnival this weekend, with more than 100 riders to compete.By Zach Hubber
More than 100 of Victoria’s best junior riders will battle it out this weekend as they descend on Moama Velodrome for the annual Echuca-Moama Cycling Club Junior Track Carnival.
Unlike last year, the weather is forecast to be kind to organisers and competitors alike after day two of the last meet was cancelled due to rain and strong winds.
Club secretary Andrew Clapham said the event had continued to grow, substantiated by EMCC’s 20 registered riders, the most it had ever fielded.
‘‘We’ve spoken to Cycling Victoria and we’ve got 90 entries for the open and approximately 30 riders for the novice events, so we’re looking at about 120 for the program,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve been getting a little bit of growth every year, so it’s continuous.’’
It is not only the event numbers which have Clapham smiling, with EMCC’s junior figures also climbing.
‘‘We’ve got a junior program that’s continuing to grow and the work Paul (Oman)’s done on the program with juniors over the last 10 years has been the big catalyst for that,’’ he said.
‘‘This is our big event for the year and it really secures our junior numbers.
‘‘The kids love racing on the track and it’s better for spectating. It’s a better environment for training and you can do more varied racing in an ideal environment.’’
The weekend’s meet will also see the state championship events moved to Saturday night from the previous Sunday morning slot to ensure they are a greater feature, as well as being more spectator friendly for locals.
Oman, the track program manager at EMCC, is in charge of ensuring the velodrome is fit for racing each year.
He said he was excited about the prospect of witnessing future stars grace the track.
‘‘We’ve had some success with some of our past riders here,’’ he said.
‘‘Calvin Watson, the 20-year-old who won the (Herald) Sun Tour, he raced here three years ago.
‘‘Dale Parker, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist, he raced here four years ago, so that’s the level of kids we do get here and it’s a pathway for them to develop and become better riders.’’
‘‘They’re the future. There could be one of those kids here, you never know.’’
Oman said events like this weekend’s offered every rider a chance to succeed.
‘‘That’s the secret to the sport, everybody’s inclusive and everybody gets a chance to go somewhere,’’ he said.
The velodrome is all set to host the influx of competitors, with the lights, grass and re-painted lines looking the part.
‘‘(Murray) Shire’s been really good this year. We now have water so we can have green grass,’’ Oman said.
‘‘We have lights, our club house is almost finished, it’s all coming along well.
‘‘This is the best period of growth the club’s had since I’ve been here, which is almost 25 years.’’
Clapham agreed, saying the club had come a long way since fielding just one or two junior riders at the event.
‘‘It was embarrassing to have a junior carnival without any juniors and now we’ve got 20, so we’re doing the right things,’’ he said.
The meet will run from 4pm to 8.30pm tomorrow and continue from 9am to 1pm on Sunday.
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