COBDEN teenager Jack Bell will use the weekend’s Tour of the South West as a warm up for a tilt on the national stage.
The 17-year-old has been squeezing in at least 16 hours a week training around his year 12 studies and says he is feeling good heading into the three-stage event which gets under way in Wangoom this morning.
Bell, who is a development rider with search2retain-health cycling team, said he was training for the Tour of Toowoomba later this month, an event on Cycling Australia’s National Road Series, and said this weekend’s hit-out would be a good test.
“I’ve been doing a bit of everything, lots of short climbs and some sprints,” he said.
“I’m feeling good. I want to hang in there and if I’m feeling good maybe attempt to get into a breakaway.”
The Camperdown Cycling Club member rode in B grade last year and was enjoying the challenge his elevation to A grade was bringing.
“I’ve done a couple of Victorian Road Series races already this year and I’m really looking forward to racing the National Road series,” he said.
“I rode this tour in B grade last year and finished about 11th overall. My time trial let me down last year so hopefully I can do a bit better this year.
“The time trial is the first stage this year. Last year it was stage two, so hopefully fresh legs will make it a bit easier.”
Bell, who won a bronze medal in the under 17 state titles last year and finished fourth in last week’s Wal Smith Memorial race in Casterton, said he was hoping to gain a full-time spot on search2retain-health’s roster, along side 2014 Melbourne to Warrnambool winner Oliver Kent-Spark.
“The plan is to take cycling as far as I can, but I’ll wait and see how year 12 goes and if I decided to go to uni,” he said.
The Tour of the South West is the fourth event on the Victorian Road Series and begins with individual time trials at Wangoom from 7.30am. A road race will follow from 11.30am.
It wraps up tomorro with a criterium around the Warrnambool cemetery from 8am until about 4pm.