Power pedals to glory in Europe

Above: Robert Power is congratulated for winning the Best Young Rider Jersey at the Tour d’Azerbaidjan.
Above: Robert Power is congratulated for winning the Best Young Rider Jersey at the Tour d’Azerbaidjan.

His seventh position overall in the recent Caucasus classic was the best general classification result so far for the Midland Cycling Club rider, who is in his first season with the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy team.

It was a double celebration for Power who, hours after the tour had ended, celebrated his 19th birthday.

The team went into the five-day tour with lofty aspirations for Power because of the hilly parcours.

The 201`2 Tour de Kalamunda winner raced under similar conditions in the Perth Hills and the rider’s recent results in Europe bolstered that confidence.

Power was full of praise for his team’s help in achieving what he described as the best result of his career.

‘In the race all the guys were 100 per cent committed,’ Power told Cycling Australia. ‘They were like, ‘do you want a bidon (water bottle)? Do you want some food?’ It was really cool. They’d ride the front and then I’d be like, ‘can you move me up?’ and they’d kill themselves (to get me there). This would have to rate as my best result in a tour,’ Power said.

‘I am really hopeful that it’s a good sign of things to come. It means a lot to me, because the team worked really hard this week. We hoped to get this jersey and it gives a bit back to my teammates. It’s a good feeling.’

Following stage four of the tour, Power recognised the efforts of teammates for setting him up for the Young Rider result he had targeted at the beginning of the week.

‘I was able to get to the last climb pretty fresh, thanks to the efforts of my teammates,’ Power said.

‘It was great to be able to take the young rider’s jersey and also a top-10 general classification position.’

Power started cycling only in 2007 and was part of the Midland Cycling Club ” the same club that kick-|started the careers of Luke Durbridge and Cameron and Travis Meyer ” and its development track program.

He raced in his first national championships at the age of 14 and has steadily built his road racing experience and skills since.

It was little surprise when he was selected for the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy program as a first-year under-23-rider. He rewarded selectors’ confidence, finishing on the podium in his first race ” a one-day Italian race, the Trofeo PIVA Banca Popolare di Vicenza.

Since the start of year he has also managed a second place in GP Palio del Recioto and a top-10 finish in Gran Premio Industrie del Marmo.

Power’s next major target is the Course de la Paix in the Czech Republic, on May 30, as well as the year’s two biggest under-23 races ” the Tour de l’Avenir in August and the world championships at the end of the year.

The rider knows he has a work ahead of him to make it into the top ranks in Europe.

Director sportif at the Tour d’Azerbaidjan, Brian Ste-phens, who has spent more than two decades coaching Australian riders, had no doubts about Power.

‘I think he’s going to be a star ” he’s just got to learn when to use the gas.’