Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Castles gains more than experience at nationals

It was supposed to just be about gaining experience, but Jay Castles got much more than he bargained for at the Cycling Australia Senior Track Cycling Championships.

February 4, 2013 5:15am

Jay Castles capped his brilliant season on the track with a pair of medals at the national championships.

It was supposed to just be about gaining experience, but Jay Castles got much more than he bargained for at the Cycling Australia Senior Track Cycling Championships.

The Bunbartha speedster returned home from Sydney yesterday with bronze and silver medals from the under-19 men’s keirin and team’s sprint, respectively.

Castles, 16, won the under-19 men’s keirin at the Oceania Track Championships in December, but faced a crack field at national level on Friday.

He finished third in his heat — with only the winner progressing to the final — but a second-place finish behind New South Welshman Michael Docker in the repechage enabled him to make the six-rider final.

That is when tactics took over.

Castles, knowing he was less physically mature than his older competitors, took a risk in shooting away from his five rivals with two laps still to go.

The effort eventually took its toll on the Wanganui Park Secondary College student, but only South Australian Jai Angsuthasawit and Docker managed to overhaul him before the finish.

‘‘I’m really happy with how I went. I took a big (burst) in the final with two laps to go and tried to hold them off,’’ Castles said.

‘‘I ended up dying in the last quarter of a lap, but held on for third. I knew I didn’t have the speed I needed to get around them, so I thought I could try and hold them off and see how that goes.

‘‘It was more that I’m a year younger than them and don’t have the speed yet.

‘‘The two people who beat me are a year older than me, so it’s good to know I was the first-placed bottom-age under-19.’’

Angsuthasawit, and his teammates, again denied Castles in the team sprint.

Castles, riding alongside Bendigo’s Braeden Dean and Colac’s Zac Shaw, qualified second — just 0.16sec behind the South Australians — for the gold medal ride-off.

‘‘We thought we had a good chance for the win in the team sprint after qualifying,’’ Castles said.

‘‘Then South Australia came out with a crazy first lap and that was pretty much the end of us, but we were still pretty happy with silver.

‘‘It’s been the best season I’ve had, so I’m looking forward to next season and seeing how I go there. Hopefully, I’m able to do better again.’’

Castles said he would take a three-week break now to ‘‘catch up on school work and sleep’’.

He thanked his support team, including his parents, grandfather and sponsors.

‘‘Thanks to everyone who’s helped me out,’’ Castles said.

‘‘I probably wouldn’t be able to go as good as I have if I didn’t have them.’’

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