Country championships come to the Illawarra


Some of the nation's best cyclists will descend on Unanderra in December after the Illawarra Cycle Club wrested the NSW Country Track Cycling Championships from perennial hosts Coffs Harbour.

The club, which has more than 230 members, was advised of its successful submission to Cycling NSW by chief executive Phil Ayres this week.

Club president Phil Jones said being given the opportunity to host the championships was an achievement.

"Our team is very excited about the possibilities," Jones said.

"We have recently refurbished the velodrome and facilities and look forward to showcasing what is an excellent facility and a brilliant spectator sport to members of the general public.

"We have been steadily building up our junior ranks this year and now offer training and racing opportunities for children five years and up, as well as special events for beginner women. ICC is committed to the development of the sport of cycling."

Club secretary and junior coach Karen Thornton said many of the club's top young and older riders would be in the hunt for medals at the championships with many club riders benefiting from relationships with the Illawarra Academy of Sport.

"We've got a great relationship with the Illawarra Academy of Sport so they were supportive of us," Thornton said.

"They have a cycling program that offers 10 scholarships to cyclists for the region and all of those are taken up by Illawarra Club riders."

"Chloe Heffernan is one of the academy scholarship holders and she just won the national under-15s road race and her brother Bradley [Heffernan] is the current under-19s national Madison champion.

"Bridget Mullany and Mitch Wright are all IAS scholarship holders in the under 15s."

"We'll be competitive in all divisions right from under nines right up to the masters level," she said.

"We've also got a developing field of under-nine riders, we've really been growing that. My daughter Gabriella [Thornton] won a silver medal in the under 7s at the NSW Country Road Championships, our club coach Gary Mandy is an ex-Olympian and he's been doing very well in the masters five division and Catt Hooton is off to the World Masters Track Championships next month. Danny Hennessy has also been a world masters champion on the track."

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