SAMUAL and Patrick Eddy and Chase Costello-Manning have become the youngest riders in the Regional Academy of Cycling Excellence (RACE).
Not only is it the first time RACE has introduced riders from the under-17s, the boys are also the first riders from Echuca to enter the Bendigo squad.
Samual (15), Patrick (14) and Costello-Manning (15) will train alongside under-19, under-23 and elite cyclists as part of their selection.
‘‘We started riding with our coach Matt Wallace in Bendigo a while back and that’s how we got involved with the team,’’ Samual said.
‘‘A fair few from the squad have gone on to join pro-domestic teams and hopefully we get the same chance.’’
RACE has been operating out of Bendigo for 10 years providing regional cyclists with specialised coaching, training and racing opportunities in a team environment to transition to the next level.
Samual said a contract with the National Road Series squad was the ultimate goal and all of the boys wanted to take their cycling to a professional level — eventually racing internationally.
The team was initially coached by the current Australian track endurance coach Tim Decker and the standard of coaching doesn’t end there.
Wallace, a champion mountain bike rider, has more than 20 years experience and faced opposition such as Cadel Evans during his career.
He was also a former Victorian Institute of Sport, Australian Institute of Sport and Olympic scholarship holder.
The boys will also be mentored by former Australian National Road Race Champion (2007) and Drapac Cycling team member Darren Lapthorne amoung others.
The three riders train for at least 10 hours a week, riding between 300-400km, and will travel to Bendigo every Tuesday and some Saturdays for training during the school holidays.
They will then ride with the Bendigo team once a fortnight as well as being provided with a racing kit and some entry costs being covered for the season.
‘‘The competition is a lot stronger in Bendigo than what we get in Echuca,’’ Costello-Manning said.
‘‘It’s good to be able to push yourself against the better guys.’’