Mates work together for national rewards
IN a competitive sport like cycling, it can be easy to adopt an individual approach to elite events.
However, it was the way a group of Ipswich Cycling Club riders banded together that achieved terrific results at the recent National Masters Track Championship in Brisbane.
Warwick-based loyal Ipswich clubman Tony Simonelli led the way with three golden rewards, boosting his tally at national titles to six medals over the years.
In his latest campaign, the carpenter nailed gold in the 2000m individual pursuit masters 6 event before teaming up with Ipswich and Toowoomba friends John McEniery, Phil Seibel and Robert Partington to win the 2000m team pursuit.
Simonelli's third gold came in the points score race during the four-day championships.
McEniery secured a gold in the masters 7 points race on the third day.
Other Ipswich club riders to impress were Jenny Goodwin and John Eder.
Goodwin won a silver in the women's 8 time trial with Eder collecting a silver in the men's masters 4 sprint.
While he was proud of his individual success, Simonelli said it was his preparation with club teammates that lifted him to new heights.
"It was just purely having some good teammates around me that enhance my performance,'' Simonelli said.
"We all train together. We all help each other along the way.''
That includes regular Saturday morning velodrome sessions.
Simonelli joined the Ipswich club about 10 years ago because Warwick didn't have a cycling group to continue the sport he's enjoyed racing in since he was 15.
He also had previous family links to Ipswich.
Simonelli appreciates support from other club members like Ian Snodgrass, who trains with the triple gold medallist, Eder, McEniery, Seibel and Partington.
"We had a fairly high level of camaraderie,'' Simonelli said.
"The whole feeling among the group was helpful.''
Simonelli won a gold and a silver medal at last year's Australian titles, also in Brisbane, after claiming his first national gold in Sydney in 2006.
He has a strong family cycling heritage with brother Adam and son Ben having represented Australia at past Oceania championships.
The Ipswich club competitor welcomed the high quality competition at the Anna Meares Velodrome at Chandler, where countless records fell and 90 medals were awarded.
However, he said riders were becoming increasingly concerned as word of the coronavirus began during their championships.
"We were very lucky,'' he said, reflecting on the timing of the national event.
He said riders were being cautious "and very much concerned about what was happening in the community.''
"We were under the impression sport was going to be one of the things that was going to be shut pretty quickly,'' the Ipswich club rider said.