Jones wins ACT state title ahead of Nationals and Tour Down Under

Campbell Jones (right) won the ACT under 23s individual time trial last month.

Campbell Jones looked to have the world at his feet in 2019 when emerging as the surprise winner of the time-honoured L’Etape – Australia’s premier event for cyclists looking to test themselves on mountainous stages. 

The Tumbarumba born and bred cyclist, who rides for Oliver’s Real Food racing team, was at the time eyeing a move overseas to compete in Asia before a potential move to Europe to compete with and against the world’s best. 

Based in Canberra, the 22-year-old’s cycling career was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced him to stay in Australia, with subsequent cycling events few and far between. 

“It was hard at times but there wasn’t much we could do,” Jones said.

“At the moment, we have been lucky. At least in Canberra we could do bunch rides, so it was good to be riding with some people.

“It was just about getting heaps of kilometres in the legs and building the base, so when it comes to building fitness for big events, we can go from there.”

With the Cycling Australia season returning to some normality in recent times, Jones tasted immediate success, winning the ACT under 23s individual time trial event last month. 

Competing against the clock, Jones said he enjoyed sprinting hard and fast in the 27km event. 

“Obviously being called individual time trial champs, you are off by yourself and it is a race against the clock,” Jones said.

“It was 27km and held just outside of the city (Canberra), and this is my last year in under 23s and I haven’t raced in the championships before and I was quite keen to give it ago. 

“We use a little bit different equipment, with a different bike, different helmet and basically, the fastest guy wins.

“I like time trials, there is not a lot of strategy, it’s just who can hurt themselves the most and it takes a different rider to go well and I quiet enjoy the time trials.”

Jones than helped his Oliver’s Real Foods teammate Kurt Eather to a win in the NSW state title 142km under 23s men’s road race near Gunning on November 14. 

The local product found his way into the breakaway group, setting a good tempo for his teammate to get the victory. 

“Our team has been competing there for the last four or five years and we are sort of the favourites each year in the under 23s and we always put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform and anything less than a win was average,” Jones said. 

“I got myself into the breakaway, which allowed my team to take a back seat and our sprinter Kurt Eather got the win for the team.”

Jones was pleased to playing a telling hand in his team’s result and in what was his last event in the under 23s category.

“It was a good win, especially this one because there was only two of us in the breakaway,” Jones said. 

“I’ve done the under 23s road race three times and all three times I’ve been in the breakaway, and I don’t know how it ends up happening, but it suits my style and I don’t mind hurting myself for my team.

“Plus, it was good to get a win. I step up to Elite class now and compete against the best.”

A return to competition is just what Jones needed as he prepares to compete against the leading riders in the country in the Elite class, and he believed being based in Canberra gave him a competitive edge.

“We are lucky here in Canberra to have the quality of riders we have,” Jones said.

“I’m not sure what brings everyone here. There is a heap of mountain bike riding and it draws good riders and good cycling.

“We have several national champions and it is a bit of a cycling hub. It has good infrastructure, which draws good young cyclists.”

Jones attends weekly meets, held by local clubs, which allows him to keep his edge as he prepares for events later this year and early next year. 

“Canberra Cycling Club and Vikings Cycle Club are the two clubs in Canberra that put on our races, which is a credit to them,” Jones said.

“We have Wednesday night criterion races, which is really good. They aren’t super long but it’s good to have a big hit out every week.

“Then we have our big races on the weekend and they are run really well.”

If he can maintain strong results on home soil, Jones is hoping to finally land a contract overseas. 

“That is definitely the plan. Leading into next year, we have a bit of a plan with some overseas races,” Jones said. 

“We have a good summer of cycling, which will lead in to nationals in mid-January and the Tour Down Under in late January. 

“For me, it will be good to build to those big races and then we will be looking at getting to Asia and then there is a rough plan to get across to Europe later in the year.”

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