Morgan Smith – My Head was on the Job

by Ed Wright – RoadCycling

Yesterday he was in the day’s breakaway until the very last, and even then his never say die attitude saw him make a last chance gasp for victory alone.  We caught up with Morgan Smith as he continues on with the 2015 An Post Ras in Ireland.

19 May 2015; Morgan Smith, Team Subaru-Albion, in action during Stage 3 of the 2015 An Post Rás.  Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

19 May 2015; Morgan Smith, Team Subaru-Albion, in action during Stage 3 of the 2015 An Post Rás. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Yesterday saw Morgan Smith line up with a breakaway opportunity in mind.  He got his chance on the 155.9km stage from Tipperary to Beama and didn’t look back.  “It did take a while but we were still out there for a fair haul around a 100km I think,” Morgan told RoadCycling.  In fact it took more than 50km before Morgan’s move finally went clear.

Interestingly one of the characteristics that has become somewhat typical of the great Irish race, is that the An Post Ras has this reputation of being extremely aggressive and unpredictable.  We asked Morgan about that – as a number of riders had tried and failed to go clear before he finally made it – about what it’s like being in a peloton that’s so . . . . unstable?  “Early on it’s hectic with everyone trying to get away. It reminds me of [Tour of] Southland just more depth,” Morgan explained.  “One thing here are the cats eyes.  They make being in the bunch that bit more interesting.”

Being in the break, Morgan was blessed not just with good timing in getting into the right move, but also with getting into the move with the right people.  Morgan was in the company of Louth Team Asea’s Roger Aiken, Anthony Walsh and Sean McKenna of CorkAquaBlue, Jimmy Janssens of Team 3M and Marc Potts of Down Nth Powerhouse Sport.  “The boys went pretty hard early and we kept working together well.  One guy in particular was very strong,” Morgan said.  “Towards the end we started attacking but I think the long straight highway from about 20kms out was against us.”

With the long straight highway came headwinds that certainly did not help the break’s cause.  But Morgan wasn’t done as he opted to attack one last time.  “My head was on the job. I thought if we could get to the 10km mark 1-1.30mins up we would go close.  You always hope.  You have to, 1/6 is better than 1/200,” he told us.  Is anyone else hearing a bit of a Voigt-like resemblance?

While Morgan’s last ditch move didn’t last, with himself and the breakaway group being caught 2km out from the finish it is a good sign of things to come, with Morgan’s aim for the rest of the race being crystal clear.  “I’m here to have a crack,” he said.  “So [I’ll] keep trying to be in the right place at the right time.”

Stay tuned for more from Morgan as the An Post Ras continues.  You can check out our full race report from stage 3 of An Post Ras here.

Ed Wright – Roadcycling

 

 

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Tour of Adelaide

The Tour of Adelaide was set to be the 2015 NRS debut for Team Subaru Albion. For the group of guys going Darcy, MJ, Daniel, Richard, Adam, Paul, and myself it was the first time some of us had ridden together. We went in with high hopes, and here is how it panned out….

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Stage one was 74km short with the infamous corkscrew climb 5km or so from the finish. With the stage being short and many teams having Adelaide as there first tour for the season it was a smash fest early on with everyone trying to get an early break going. However, with everyone fresh enough and in the same mind set there was to be no break. Instead in was a whitewash of riders until the bottom of the climb, there it was simple you either had the position and legs or you didn’t. For us young Adam had both and went over the top in 3rd finishing in 7th for the stage in a select group of about 8 riders 51seconds down on a lone Patrick Bevin. In the next group it was Paul and myself 1minute and 23seconds off Bevin. Thanks to Adam’s ride he had rewarded himself and the team by taking the White Jersey (Young Rider Classification), and sitting 7th on GC as well as the team jumping into 5th place on Teams Classification.
100km was the longest stage of the tour was on the cards for day two. Five laps of a 20km circuit, with the plan of defending Adam and the White Jersey as well as going on the attack. Once again it was a fast start but coming into the 3rd lap the break was about to go and the whole team was having a dig to try and get away. Finally the move went and we had placed the Irishman MJ into it. With the previous attempt from Richard nearly sneaking away MJ knew the next move would stick and that it did.
Here is where things went not so good for myself. After the gravel/cobble section of the lap where the bunch split either side of a tree on lap 3 I decided to try the left hand side for a change. As it was a slight dip I put the power down to look at moving up more, then within a split second, I had hit something and I was staring at my hands… Unfortunately the handlebars weren’t in them and as I tried to catch them my front wheel crossed up and I was sliding into the kerb. Unfortunately for MJ the breakaway got caught and it came down to a bunch sprint with Adam safely up there.
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The third stage was once again a short 70km. After crashing the day before the goals for my tour had changed somewhat. I now focused on keeping up the team moral. When someone crashes on tour it is easy for them to sulk and bring their teammates mood down with them, but that’s not me and with a jersey in the teams grasp there was still a lot to keep us happy and focused. Not knowing how I would go after having the scrubbing brush along with a couple stitches in my elbow I lined up with the rest of the brothers. For me the day was tough mentally more than anything, I struggled with the change in pace and terrain, also the fact that I wasn’t really in the position I pride myself, helping out my teammates. Most of the stage I just yelled at them when I got close enough to make sure they were switched on. I made it to the front once and sat there for a lap with an old friend Rowan. Sadly we didn’t get any tv time. A break went away with a lone rider just staying away from a fast bunch. But Adam kept good position all day and the guys stayed close by. He was now sitting in 6th on GC.
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The last day was tough especially if you were feeling one paced such as myself. An 80km kermesse with a bumpy downhill drag into a one lane right handed, concrete kerbs either side. Early on there was a pile up and half the bunch had been caught up behind it including MJ and myself. With Adam safely being looked after by Darcy, Richard and Paul, I decided to wait and try to get MJ back into the race. He would be more help than I was, so there we were chasing the bunch but MJ needed his breath back and we waited for the Budget train who had three quarters of their team caught up in the crash. We jumped on the back of this team pursuit with MJ managing to hang on and get back to the front of the race. For me one speed was all I could do, and man did it piss me off. I kept going until the commissaire deemed me too far behind the bunch and pulled me in. Even with that I still found away to try and egg my teammates on, so I got changed and went to the pit area to watch and wait. Unfortunately for Daniel a puncture had ruled him out also, we watched as Adam came across the line in 13th securing the young rider jersey, 6th on GC and the team 5th in teams classification.
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It was awesome to see a young team achieve a lot in our first NRS tour of the year. Taking a back seat saw others stand up and really show the potential inside this Subaru Albion squad. Thanks to the support we had from Frank, Toni the Exterminator, and Nik the Russian who looked after us to no end. Also Subaru Australia and Eblen Subaru for the slick wheels. On a personal note I’d like to thank my teammates for everyday coming to the doctors tent to see how I was getting on and the way they themselves rode a successful tour.
On ya boys!

Morgan Smith: feeling good

March 28th, ’15.  Morgan Smith has had a bit of a bumper start to 2015.  After his 3rd place in the prologue time trial of the New Zealand Cycle Classic opened up a solid week of racing in the North Island, Smith is getting ready to hit the ground running at the Adelaide Tour next month.  RoadCycling had a chat with him.

As Morgan gets set to get stuck in to the international season that 2015 is set to bring, he’s in good spirits; things just seem to be going right.  “I’m feeling really good actually. I was ready to kick things off at NZCC so since then I’ve dialed it back a bit and now I’m starting to build up the speed ahead of my next few races,” Morgan said.  “The best thing I guess is that I’m enjoying my riding at the moment.”

Morgan has been racing in Australia and New Zealand already this year, with the New Zealand Cycle Classic being a real eye opener for him.  “It was a different experience riding for GC and I learnt a lot of lessons very quickly,” Morgan told RoadCycling.  “I felt good in the lead up so I wanted to put that to good use, and getting a result in the prologue was a good start. I made a couple bad decisions and that cost me but the confidence I got from the race was key.”

Following on from that it was a journey across the Tasman to take on the Oceania Road Race Championships.  While Avanti Racing’s Taylor Gunman rode to the win it was a bit more of a relaxed race for Smith.  “Oceanias was a bit of a bunch ride to be honest, we had young Richard Lawson up in the break for most of the race.  Once the big teams didn’t want to pull it back it was just a case of staying up the front out of trouble. Some of the team weren’t so lucky and got caught up in crashes,” Morgan mentioned.

This year Morgan is racing for the Subaru Albion team having moved over from the Charter Mason squad.  “I’m stoked to be a part of Team Subaru Albion for 2015. They snapped me up when I was available and I’m enjoying my time with them,” Morgan told us.  “They have already given me a great opportunity at NZCC and we are off to another international UCI race shortly. It’s a great family to be a part of with a big band of sponsors and support up in Sydney.”

The make up of Subaru Albion is diverse but they’ve got a clear vision and an exciting schedule coming up that will see them travel around the globe.  “Frank Conceicao [Director of Sport] was clear to me about the team and the direction they have. It’s a development team with a mix of experience, youngsters, and guys like me looking to take that next step,” Morgan explained.  “I was very keen to work with Frank and the team as I feel us riders can learn a lot here at Subaru Albion.  Plus there’s a few kiwis!”  The Subaru Albion Development Team includes fellow Kiwis Darcy-Ellerm Norton, Richard Lawson, Adam Bull and Daniel Molyneux.

Morgan has ambitions for both on and off the bike as he looks ahead to what the rest of 2015 will bring.  One of Morgan’s big highlights is set to be the upcoming trip to Ireland.  “I’m looking forward to The Ras in Ireland and I’m hoping to arrive in good condition,” he said.  “Of course performing in the NRS throughout the year, and later on getting back to the Tour of Southland [are goals too].  We also have some very strong guys in the squad, so to help them achieve their goals as well during the year is high up on the list.”  Life away from the bike brings its exciting prospects too.  “Off the bike I’ll be looking to help the younger guys realise how big of an opportunity the team has given them and help them as well as the team take that next step.”

Next up on the agenda for Morgan is the Jayco Adelaide Tour from the 9th-12th April.  From there it’s over to Ireland for the Ras before spending time in Belgium prior to the trip back Down Under.  One thing’s for sure, 2015 is going to be big, really big and we’re excited about seeing how the year progresses as Morgan looks to take the next step in his cycling career.

Stay tuned for more info as his season progresses.

By:  Ed Wright – Roadcycling

via Morgan Smith: feeling good. roadcycling.co.nz

Ambitious Swedish and Australian teams announced for An Post Rás

Ambitious Swedish and Australian teams announced for An Post Rás.

Former professional Thomas Löfkvist will manage 2010 An Post Rás winner, Alex Wetterhall and four other riders in May’s edition of the race, aiming to deliver a second race victory to 28 year old Wetterhall.

The Tre Berg – Bianchi squad is one of two teams announced today, taking part in the race, which begins in Dunboyne, Co. Meath on May 17th. The Swedish Continental-level squad will be joined by the Australian club team Subaru Albion, which also has ambitious goals for the event.

While the line up is yet to be finalised, Löfkvist said: “We come to race for an overall victory and to hunt for stages. Alexander Wetterhall will be our leader.”

Wetterhall is likely to be joined by two-time Swedish criterium champion Sebastian Balck and Lucas Eriksson, who in turn placed sixth and seventh at the Junior World Championships in 2013 and 2014.

The other two places on the team may go to 2013 Memorial Pigoni Coli runner-up Kim Magnusson and Niklas Gustavsson, who was third in the 2012 London Nocturne.

Löfkvist will use his considerable racing experience to guide the squad through the 2015 edition. He rode the Rás himself in 2003, forging a successful professional career with top teams including Team High Road and Team Sky. His results include overall victory in the 2013 Tour of the Mediterranean with Team IAM Cycling.

Already familiar with Irish roads, the Australian Subaru Albion team arrive in Ireland in mid-April and will compete in the Tour of Ulster and the Shay Elliott Memorial as a build up to starting An Post Rás on May 17th.

“As this is our third year riding the Rás, we will definitely be looking for a stage win,” said David Early, who will be working with the team. “I know that one of the guys has earmarked the first stage as a possibility and Anthony Murray is looking to improve on last year’s result. He is targeting a top ten overall in the GC (general classification).”

Murray finished 23rd overall last year and was also 7th overall in the Rás Mumhan.

The team will be led by the 2013 Sydney road champion Keegan Aitchison, who has ridden the race twice before.

2013 New Zealand Under-23 Road Champion, Richard Lawson is chasing a stage win in his Rás debut, while Dave Logue Classic winner, Daniel Molyneaux and Morgan Smith are also likely to be part of the line up.

Early says Smith has only been cycling for three years and describes him as ‘somewhat of a wild child,’ but points out that he finished sixth overall in this year’s Tour of New Zealand.

“You never really know which Morgan will turn up. He could do a Gary Thompson,” he said, referring to the former Irish Olympian and Rás runner-up, “and either tear your legs off, or lose twenty minutes and throw his bike into the ditch.”

The two teams will join the recently-announced Hrinkow Advarics CYcleanG squad in the race. That team will be led by last year’s race winner Clemens Fankhauser.

The 2015 An Post Rás will begin in Dunboyne on May 17th and will feature stage finishes in Carlow, Tipperary, Bearna, Newport, Ballina, Ballinamore, Drogheda and Skerries.

It will total almost 1200 kilometres in length and will include 21 categorised climbs.

Original article on Anpost Ras Web Site

What’s next?

After opening up my season with the team at Nz cycle classic it was off to Sydney for the team launch and then up to Toowoomba for Oceania champs.

NZ Cycle Classic was my first time riding for GC (general classification).
It was really interesting. A lot different to just doing a job for your teammates. I was looking at starting my season off strongly but felt I had missed an opportunity. Wrong decisions cost me in the end general classification but I left feeling positive and confident. I learned some valuable lessons very quickly and I’m looking forward to the next time. One thing I admired was my teammates belief in me which was through the roof even before the tour started. Their support was awesome and will be repaid.

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Getting a podium on the prologue was a one of the targets of mine heading into the NZCC.

The team launch was a new experience for me.  It was a good night out finally meeting all the team, supporters and sponsors.

Toowoomba didn’t come to much as the break went up the road with young Richard Lawson in there for us. He eventually came back to the bunch with a couple others but that was all as the break stayed away by 2minutes in the end.

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Team presentation night. Meet and greet!

Since then I’ve dialled it back a touch and I’m looking at building towards my next tour and my first NRS event of the year up in Adelaide. A week later I’ll be on a plane headed across to Ireland In the lead up to the An Post Ras, with a little excursion into Belgium for two weeks afterwards.

Once again the An Post Ras is a UCI race, so I’m hoping to get there in good touch. I’ve heard its a bit like Southland. 8 days long, crap weather , and only 5man teams. The days are around 130-160km all week which I’m looking forward to.

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Out training with the team in Sydney in the build up to Oceania Championships. Even got clipped by a car one day!

I’m really enjoying riding and racing my bike at the moment and I can’t wait to get into my next tour. The opportunities Subaru Albion have given me in such a short space if time is awesome. Not only me but there are a couple younger fellas in our ranks that I think can hit the mark in years to come, if they knuckle down.

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Between races I’ve been out racing around town, picking up a few Crit wins here and there.

I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated as much as possible in the lead up and throughout. Also you can follow the team and I on our Facebook page, Instagram, or twitter.

Thanks for all the support back home and now here in Melbourne. It makes the tough times a lot easier having so many awesome people behind you.

If you want to find out more feel free to message me.

Morgz out!

Morgan Smith – belief the boys had in me was awesome

by Ed Wright – Roadcycling

Stage 1 – Morgan SmithMorgan Smith took third place in the opening prologue time trial, photo providedJan 28th, ’15. In brand new team colours for 2015, Morgan Smith rode to a brilliant third place in the opening prologue time trial of the NZCT Cycle Classic. Afterwards the Subaru Albion rider took time out to speak to RoadCycling about the ride and the road to here.

After his 2014 season with Charter Mason, 2015 has brought a new opportunity with Subaru Albion, and as Morgan told us it’s a chance he’s looking forward to. “Subaru Albion picked me up and I’m very happy to be here. The opportunities that they offer with their schedule are great and hopefully I can make the most of the ones I get,” Morgan told RoadCycling. “Also I think I can help the team develop and take the next step. This is my first outing with them and the team culture is great. The belief the boys had in me today was awesome.”

On the first day of his first outing Morgan has certainly made a big impression. Morgan’s third place finish in the prologue put him just 10 seconds behind stage winner Joseph Cooper and one tenth of a second behind Cooper’s teammate Fraser Gough. It was a great ride from Morgan, with there being another two seconds of daylight to fourth placed Daniel Barry. But as he explains to us, his journey to the podium today was pretty straightforward really. “With today being so short there wasn’t much tactics involved, just tried to go as hard as I could. For me the start and mostly the turn would be where it would be won or lost. I went out hard and coming into the turn I thought I was going ok. I chopped down the gears but still creeped out of it,” he said.

The prologue was the big goal for Smith in this year’s race and with mission accomplished it’s now a case of . . . . what next? “I came here after a good result in the prologue so much so that it doesn’t seem that big of a deal now that it happened,” Morgan admitted. “Today was the key target for me. For the rest of the week we will just wait and see what happens. There are still 5 days and it can get nasty here. Only time will tell!”

Stay tuned for more updates from the New Zealand Cycle Classic. Check out our race report from today’s stage.

via Morgan Smith – belief the boys had in me was awesome.

Late Spring In Doreen

After my first full season in the NRS I headed back home to the Tour of Southland, (with Barry Stewart Builders)ubt over my head. At the end of 2014 I was parting ways with CharterMason, and at that stage I was still in talks with different teams. Uncertainty Crept in but I was enjoying the fact that I was back in NZ to take part in one of the best tours going on the calendar.

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One of my new teammates Darcy enjoying the ride 3rd wheel. Me taking the wind for Michael Torckler to hold onto 4th on GC, the least I could do after he threw everything at the yellow jersey.

Southland was awesome but I left there feeling disappointed in the outcome as I would have preferred a better TT result.
A three week break incurred which was good and bad. It was time to reset and rest which was needed. The down side is I had too much time on my hands! When you are used to riding all the time it’s a shock during your rest period.

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After a disappointing 5th into Te Anau, I only managed 7th in the ITT this time.

 

With most people starting to enjoy the summer weather, spring was just beginning for me. After being in talks with a few teams I decided on Team Subaru Albion.
An experienced Director, the chance of International UCI racing, an awesome team culture, and a roster that I feel I can help develop into a emerging force in not only the NRS but also internationally, were attributes I was searching for.

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A Trek Emonda SLR.

 

This brought on the excitement and motivation. The excitement of riding one of the lightest production bikes around, with a custom paint job! The motivation of chasing the results needed to not only gain personal results but help my new teammates chase theirs and pronounce the Subaru Albion NRS Development Team on a international stage!

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I’m looking forward to pulling this on for the UCI NZ Cycle Classic. My first tour for 2015 and the first with my new team. Then hopefully it will be on to Oceania Champs.