Peloton Cafe || 2014 Herald Sun Tour, Stage 3 – Avanti Racing Team (image copyright jxpphotography)
By Caelli Greenbank
) After topping the National Road Series team rankings last year, the newly-renamed Avanti Racing Team is off to a flying start in the 2014 season, with plenty of miles already in the team?s collective legs.? Starting his season at the Road National Championships in Ballarat last month, the team?s newest signing, Mark O?Brien, has just come off his third race of the year and says the signs are good for the Tasmanian team. ?We?re really happy with how the year?s started, with a second and third in the Criterium Nationals and my own seventh at Nationals and then with our white jersey at both TDU and here at the Sun Tour, it?s quite good,? O?Brien said on the final, abandoned stage of the 2014 Herald Sun Tour.? ?Hopefully we?ll continue the good form all year this year.? We would?ve obviously liked to improve on our teams? classification here with GreenEDGE having to ride the front, but in the end it?s the same for everybody, so we gave it our best through the week.? In late January O?Brien donned a different jersey to race the Tour Down Under in the Uni-SA Australia national team, comprised mostly of his Avanti teammates. The team culminated a week in the spotlight with an impressive performance by Victorian youngster Jack Haig, who carried off honours in the young rider classification of Australia?s World Tour race. ?We had five of our six riders here race the Tour Down Under last week, so we?re all going quite well,? O?Brien said of the team?s Sun Tour line-up. ??It wasn?t just the team that carried over, with Avanti taking second in the team classification, as well as second overall and the young rider?s jersey with 20-year-old Haig.? ?We were hoping to finish it off today, but it is what it is,? O?Brien shrugged, saying the team would have to content themselves with their results after the cancellation of Stage 4 robbed them of a last opportunity to improve their standings. But Haig?s results so far offer promise for the rest of the season.? ?He?s a very talented bike rider and he?s starting to show that through to everyone else,? O?Brien described his young teammate, who hails from the same hometown of Bendigo.? ?Everyone that trains with him in Bendigo knows how well he can go up a hill but now he?s showing himself as a complete bike rider and he?s getting through the splits. ?It?s really great to see his hard work starting to pay off now and I think it?s only a matter of time before we see him over racing with a Pro Tour team.? In the meantime Haig and O?Brien will have their roles to play in fulfilling Avanti?s goals for the year. ?Pretty similar to other years; we want to win the NRS and the teams? NRS as well, but we?re doing a lot of racing throughout Asia,? O?Brien elaborated, adding that he?d like to see the team improve in the Asian team standings as well.? ?We?ve had some results in the past but I think we can move up to be one of the more dominant teams throughout Asia as well, if everything goes to plan.?