By James Finch-Penninger @FishysCP
BrakeDown Podcast founder
Sean Lake of Avanti IsoWhey Sports completed a rare double on the weekend, with the former rower taking out both the Oceanian Time Trial and the Road Race in style. Both events saw long solo moves from the raw talent, with his power coming to the fore in both the wins.
In the time trial, it was expected to be a battle between Nationals bronze medallist Lake and his New Zealand teammate and former Oceanian time trial champion Joe Cooper. Lake had to turn the tables on Cooper, who had beaten him by four seconds in the time trial a week before at a Victorian Road Series event, the Tour of East Gippsland.
?I knew that East Gippsland suited Joe a bit more, being shorter and hillier. After that time trial, I was stoked to only be four seconds off him, and I was fairly confident over the longer, flatter Bendigo course that I?d be able to get up. It was good to have that rivalry with a teammate, because even if you don?t get the win, your teammate will, so it?s not as bad a feeling.?
The road race also proved to be a long, mostly solo effort. Lake followed an attack by Nathan Elliot (Kenyan Riders Downunder) with over 100 kilometres remaining from the front group and then dropped his companion halfway up the main climb of Mt Alexander with still 35 kilometres left to race. With an advantage at the summit, it was into time trial mode, and Lake was able to hold off the chasing group of four to win the race.
?I thought that I?d have a good shot at the time trial and I?ve been preparing specifically for that over the last month, really targeting that and working on my time trial position. The road race was more of a surprise, it ended up being a race which really suited me… with the tactics and the way the race played out, which allowed me to take the win. They both mean a lot, but I guess I?m now approaching a spot where I can start to expect good results in time trials, which makes the road race a bit more special. It?s just so hard to guarantee a result in that.?
Lake is new to the scene of elite cycling, but he has turned heads in the short time he has been on the bike, becoming the first man to win back-to-back at Grafton to Inverell and steadily improving in the time trial, to the point where he is one of the favourites against almost any competition. The 24 year old is keen to have the opportunity to go as far as he can in the sport.
?I try and think of it as the sky?s the limit. I?m looking to make a professional career out of it, and I?m taking it one step at the moment. The exciting thing for me is how far my improvement has gone and how far it has left to go. I think physiologically, having only been cycling for a relatively short time, I think there?s heaps of areas that I can improve. The amount of knowledge and learning that I?ve taken out of my preparation and training from guys like Mark Fenner and Andrew Christie-Johnston is phenomenal. In the road racing, having Pat Shaw on the team and having him in your ear constantly is really helpful. Telling you to save your energy, not doing the silly things everyone does so you have the energy at the end of the race to win.?
For the fans and cycling public, what will be interesting to follow is the type of rider that Lake becomes. Think of the differences between Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin and Bradley Wiggins, all top time-triallists, but who also use their power and endurance to target vastly different styles of racing. So far Lake has inclined more to the Cancellara mould, with his success in the gruelling one-day races, but even Lake himself doesn?t know what sort of rider he will become.
?For me I?m always looking to step forward with my time-trialling and long-term really match it with those guys at nationals. I?d love to have a crack at that. At the same time, the long, hard races seem to suit me really well and I think I?m still finding my way in cycling, so I?m looking at everything I can to have a go.?
James Finch-Penninger, @FishysCP
BrakeDown Podcast founder