Allez, allez, allez: Jesse Norton will be chasing the white, green and gold jersey in the U19 road race. Photos: CHIPPY RIVERA

Junior’s sights on mountain coronation

January 9, 2020 BY

SEVENTEEN-year-old Jesse Norton relished the feeling of capturing the U19 Criterium title in front of a home crowd during last year’s Sturt Street RoadNats action.

With the championships in his territory for another summer, the Ballarat-Sebastopol Cycling Club rider is ready to test his form, representing Giant and Shaw’s Cycling Centre.

He’ll face the “strong” field that is the U19 road race, nine laps and 105km around Buninyong and Mount Helen this Saturday, 11 January.

“It’s real special to have Nationals in your hometown and because it’s been here for so long, it gets a lot of hype and build up,” Norton said.

“They bring out people that have never ridden a bike before or never even thought about cycling, then they get to watch it on Sturt Street or out at Buninyong, and then they start following you and it just grows.”

He’s spent the last ten weeks in serious training, getting to understand the mountainous track like a close friend.

“It helps knowing the roads. There’s been a lot of days out on the course, riding it, knowing it inside out. It obviously gives you a home advantage.

“My favourite part would have to be up the climb of the King of the Mountain,” Norton said.

That section of each lap along Mount Buninyong Road is iconic for riders and spectators alike, and a space where he said the race can be won or lost.

“Under 19s and juniors race really aggressive. It’s always on from the start and it’s a real slog to get up there, you’re focussing on getting up there, over the top, recover down the backside of the course, come around, do it again…

“It’s a real race to see who’s left by the end, really,” Norton said.

Looking forward to bringing everything he’s got this weekend, he then hopes to hit Oceanas in Tasmania in March, and maybe even Junior Worlds in Switzerland later in 2020.