FORMER Australian Road Race champion Allan Iacuone is not discounting his chances of taking the chocolates at this Sunday’s inaugural Victorian Cyclo-cross Championships at Bundoora Park.
Having been racing solidly in this year’s Dirty Deeds Cyclo-cross series, Iacuone said if everything goes well on the day, he will challenge for the men’s elite title. Standing in his way will be Lewis Rattray, champion of the Dirty Deeds series.
“Lewis’ skills are really good. His fitness levels are getting better throughout the winter,” said Iacoune. “Then there are a few other guys to look out for: Adrian Jackson, Lachlan Norris. (Norris) rides the road and his skills are very good from what I’ve seen.”
In his most recent race, Iacuone was neck-and-neck with Rattray only to come unstuck on a footpath section in the final laps and finish a distant second. Staying on the bike at the critical moments will be key to Iacuone’s chance of success this weekend.
“For me, for every race that I do, I seem to struggle somewhere at some point. I’ll have a little mishap and go off the track or have a bad dismount. Those kinds of things at the pointy end of the race really add up. You’ve got to have everything going well to get a win on the board.”
Cyclo-cross may be new to Australia but the wintery obstacle-course format has been a staple for fans in cycling’s European heartland for over a century. Drawing some parallels with mountain, cross country and criterium racing, the focus is on aerobic endurance and superior bike handling.
“It incorporates all the attributes of a road race in a condensed form,” said Iacoune. “I lived in Belgium for a few seasons and you switch on the telly in February and you watch these cyclo-cross races and thousands of people cheering them on… I didn’t realise how big and important cross was.”
Iacuone had a successful career in road racing that saw him win the road nationals in 1994 (pictured below) and podium places at the Melbourne to Warrnambool and Herald Sun Tour.
Since switiching to Cyclo-cross, Iacuone has become addicted to Australia’s newest discipline.
“The lure for me is it’s a new challenge for me,” said Iacoune. “I find it – I can’t get enough of it. I wish I could ride my cross bike all the time. It’s this fun feeling you get when you’re riding up into dirt and the mud. You finish a race or a ride and you’re caked in mud.” According to Iacuone, cyclo-cross is not only a fun day for the riders. The condensed course with obstacles slowing competitors allows for fans to “get out there and heckle.”
“The spectator side of things, it’s a great atmosphere,” Iacuone said. “I think it’s a really good day out for everyone.”
Racing starts at 12:30pm at Bundoora Park with the elite men and women taking off at 2:45 pm. For more details, follow this link.