ONE lapse in concentration and it could be all over - that's how little room most competitors have to move when it comes to top-end cycling races.
Port Macquarie duo Alani Cockshutt and Oscar Jakeman will find that out first-hand when they head to the Gold Coast this weekend for the 2019 Cycling Australia Junior Road National Championships.
It will be their first taste of riding against the best cyclists Australia has to offer in their respective age divisions.
Cockshutt (under-17s) sees the three-day competition as a trial run to prepare for a stronger, more realistic shot at next year's event.
"I don't really know what to expect; I'm just going to try and not get last in any of the races," she said.
"I want to try and hang on as long as I can in the road race and be in for a sprint at the end with a bunch of girls and not finish by myself.
"I want to be in with everyone and be a bit of competition because once you fall off the back in cycling it's really hard because there's no catching up."
Being a younger athlete in the under-17 division this year, she feels the goal of making the New South Wales team as a top-age athlete next year is more achievable.
The teenager will have a time trial on Friday, road race on Saturday and then the criterion on Sunday with the road race expected to be where she achieved her best result - albeit also the most challenging.
"The course is a bit hilly so it will be the hardest one because of that, but hopefully that will be one of my stronger races and I can get my highest place in that."
Cockshutt has gotten to know the hills around the beaches in Port Macquarie very well as that has formed most of her training program.
"Pretty much every weekend I've been doing laps of Pacific Drive because those hills replicate the hills in the race quite well because it's up and down; there's not much flat," she said.
"I've been doing a lot of kays and hours and hopefully it pays off on the day."
Her Port Macquarie and North Coast Academy of Sport teammate Jakeman will ride in the under-15 boys division.
It will be his second year in that age division, but first time at nationals.
"I'm hoping to get some top 10 finishes; I know I'm probably capable of doing it, but I need to be positioned well and feeling good on the day," he said.
He will ride in the road race and the criterion.
"I'm hoping to get top 10 in both, but will probably get a higher place in the criterion because I got well placed at the state titles," he said.
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