Elite Men: Drizners Makes Impressive Start Before Saunders Sees off a Late Charge from Welsford

November 26, 2019 CyclingSA

Last year’s 2018 Elite Men’s Super Series came down to the wire, with Jack Sutton (Oliver’s Real Food Racing at the time) being overtaken by Lightsview’s Justin Gassner in the final round. In 2019, the two would team up to present as a very formidable pairing on the rebranded Lightsview (now operating as Tonsley Village). With several other new recruits in Cooper Sayers from SASI and Pat Constable who had recently made the switch from the national Track Sprint program, they had a very formidable line-up.

Photo: Andy Rogers

Going into the opening rounds it was none from Tonsley Village but the Cycling Australia Academy’s Jarrad Drizners who would kick things off with a bang taking the Mischief Brew Points Race. Potentially fuelled by the imbibed caffeine, he followed this with a podium in the Classic Hits 5CS Wallaroo Road Race and another win in the Magic FM Moonta Criterium. Drizners has been unarguably one of the strongest road riders in the country this year, but this would ultimately be his undoing as he was whisked away to defend his lead in the National Road Series, ruling him out of rounds 5 and 6. This opened up the door for Butterfields – Appselec p/b VDR’s Tristan Saunders to take over the lead. This was harder than initially anticipated as the arrival of the National team spearheaded by Sam Welsford and Kell O’Brien would add significant pace to the final half the series. Nevertheless, Saunders stayed calm and steadily chipped away at points through Round 6 and 7 to put him into the lead coming into the final round, the Unley Oval Reserve Criterium.

Photo: Kevin Anderson

The Cycling Australia duo of Sam Welsford and Kell O’Brien charged up the rankings, with O’Brien winning Round 5 before Welsford would take a hattrick of wins to finish the series. This would be enough to catapult Welsford right up the series standings into second overall with O’Brien coming in third. This late charge would see the Tonsley village duo of Sutton and Gassner pushed off the podium along with early series leader Drizners. USG Cycling’s Angus Maddern was the rider who looked most likely to challenge Saunders in the final round, but despite some early aggression around the streets of Unley, he was unable to inflict the required damage and he too would miss out on a podium despite some very strong riding throughout the 2019 series.

Saunders would also claim the Adelaide Bike Fit Young Rider Classification, with Drizners claiming second and Sayers in third, just edging out Will Golding of Chesser Chemicals. The Adelaide Advanced Physiotherapy Sprint Classification was taken out by Kell O’Brien, taking maximum points in the final round to clinch the classification.

The depth in Tonsley’s line up was evident, and enough to give them the Team’s Classification for the second year in a row. They would finish 20 points clear of Cycling Australia’s track squad, with Focus-Attaquer finishing some way off in third.

Series winner Saunders, at just 19 years of age, has come a long way over the past 12 months., coming from struggling to even finish rounds of the 2018 series to his success this year. He’ll be one to watch not only at a state level but on the national stage as well in years to come!

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