The latest young man to take note of is Queenslander, Jordan Kerby; in his short career he’s achieved much – including two world titles, but it was Michael Wilson who was the pioneer when I started cycling back in the early 70’s – the first Aussie to really make an impression on the European scene. He won stages in the Giro, Vuelta, Tour de Suisse and Tirreno – but it’s different now, the young Aussies come up through their track programme, race and train and Europe and are more than welcome in the professional teams.
The work ethic it takes to be reach and remain on the Australian National Squad is well known to the ‘Euros.’
It was 2009 when Kerby’s palmarès began with a bronze in the Australian Junior Points Championship and a win the Australian Junior Team Pursuit Championships alongside current reigning World Elite Pursuit Champion, Michael Hepburn.
One year later he’d exchanged bronze for gold in the Aussie junior points and added the world title at the same discipline plus a world title in the junior team pursuit.
His best result in 2011 was silver the Australian Team Pursuit Championship; but 2012 saw the results turned on, again – but on the road.
He took the prologue in the Tour of Thailand, a stage in the Mersey Valley Tour in Australia, the prologue in the North West Tour – also in his homeland; and 10th overall in the Tour of China.
Kerby was one of the ‘names’ of early 2013 with a prologue win and spell in the leader’s jersey in the Australian, Herald Sun Tour – but really caught the eye with his win in the Australian U23 Road Race Championship.
VeloVeritas spoke to the 20 year-old as his career began with Danish Continental squad Christina Watches-Onfone.
How did you get into cycling, Jordan Kerby?
“Cycling has always been in the family, both my father and grandfather used to ride. I did a lot of football and rugby as a kid and dabbled in a bit of triathlon as well.
“I found that I liked bike aspect the most, needless to say the swimming and running didn’t last long. So it started from there, from about 10 or 11 years old cycling became my passion.”
You were double World Junior Champion – points and team pursuit – did you ever consider going down the senior team pursuit road?
“I guess so, but these things don’t just happen overnight. I tried my hand in a few senior team pursuits at the World Cups in Beijing and Manchester.
“It was definitely great experience as well as development but from 2012 onwards I decided to focus solely on the road.”
We’ve heard that the Aussie junior track programme can be very mentally – as well as physically – demanding?
“Australia has one of the strongest track programmes in the world – of course it’s going to be very physically and mentally demanding.
“But that goes with every discipline in this sport. If you want to be at the top, you’ve got to be willing deal with the demands.”
Tell us about your Aussie U23 title – prior to that you were best known as a prologue specialist.
“In my opinion I’m more proud of this victory than my junior World Titles.
“Yes, prologues are something I’m consistently strong at; so it’s even more rewarding to win in a discipline I’m not particularly renowned for.”
January was pretty special for you, wasn’t it?
“January was the best month I’ve had in my career, to cap off my two wins in the Herald Sun Tour and the Nationals I was privileged enough to be selected for team UNI-SA for Tour Down Under.”
How will you plan your Euro season – you’ve had a tough southern season, it would be easy to do too much.
“I’ve had to dial it back quite a bit after TDU. I don’t think it’s possible to be flying in January and continue to have form all the way until a mid season break.
“After TDU I had some time off then flew into the Christina Watches-Onfone training camp on Lake Garda where I gradually started to build up for the euro season.”
How did you get the Christina ride – do you have an agent?
“The Christina Watches-Onfone ride came about after conversing with the team after Tour of China last year.
“They seemed to be pretty impressed with both Mitch Lovelock and myself, things just fell into place.
“I do have an agent who I’ve just recently started working with towards the end of last year.”
Where’s ‘home’ in Europe?
“Home for now is Lake Garda in northern Italy; I’ve been here since the training camp. It’s a really nice place.
“I will also be living in Denmark for some time this year
How are you dealing with the northern hemisphere weather?
“Well, being a Queenslander, I can’t emphasise enough how much of a difference there is.
“I’ve had to wear pieces of winter kit I’ve never had to wear before.
“So yeah, it’s cold!”
How’s the team organisation so far – clothing, bikes, travel?
“Everything is spot on, the team has friendly staff and there’s great communication.
“Heaps of equipment and so on; we’re really well looked after.”
It must make it easier having a countryman in the team with you?
“Absolutely, it’s great having Mitch here with me.
“He’s a good guy, really easy to get along with – but about 90% of the team speak English.
“However, it’s great to have another guy who speaks ‘Aussie’.”
Tell us about your programme.
“We were supposed fly to Mexico for a couple of tours there but they were cancelled – which was a big disappointment – so I’ve been training here in chilly Italia.
“But we fly out to the Tour of Morocco tomorrow (Wed. 27/03) so I’m excited to be getting back to racing, again.
“Then it’s back to Europe for some UCI races in Denmark, with also a few Eastern European tours in the following months.”
What’s your favourite type of race?
“I’m yet to really find out; it’s something I’m going to learn about myself this year.
“I do enjoy time trials, and I do like tough conditions – but it’s definitely something I’m going to discover about myself in the coming months.”
How did the Tour Down Under compare to the Asian UCI races you rode last year?
“The Tour Down Under was a whole other level.
“Don’t get me wrong, some of the Asian tour can be pretty tough.
“But every competitor at Down Under was a strong rider so naturally it makes the racing tougher.”
What’s your mindset for season 2013?
“To progress as a rider, find where my strengths truly lie, and very importantly – I’m going to try and win some races!”