The Down Under Weekly: Let’s get to it

Keep up to date on all things Aussie cycling with our new round-up.

Matt de Neef
by Matt de Neef 15.09.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
More from Matt +

G’day and welcome to the first edition of the Down Under Weekly. You might have noticed a bit more Aussie-focused content at Escape lately. Interviews with roadie Grace Brown and MTBer Sam Fox, say, or Richie Porte talking about life post-retirement, or the story I wrote about the future of Aussie Road Nationals.

Well, starting now, I’m going even deeper. This round-up will help you stay across all the interesting goings-on in Aussie cycling. It’ll mainly focus on racing, with a bias towards road racing (much like Escape in general) but it won’t just be road. If there’s interesting stuff happening in cross-country MTB, on the track, in cyclocross, or beyond, it’ll be here too. Equally, if there are interesting Australian stories that aren’t racing-related, they’ll also get a guernsey.

You’ll read about those competing at the highest level, but if Aussies are doing well in Asian racing, say, you’ll find that here too. And I’ll also be giving some love to the National Road Series, a competition that’s never really had the media coverage it deserves.

You’ll find the Down Under Weekly here on the Escape Collective website and, soon, via a dedicated newsletter. If you’d like this round-up delivered right to your email inbox, please hit that button below.

I’ll be honest – this round-up is a work in progress. I’ll try different things out as I go, seeing what works and what doesn’t. If you have feelings in that regard, please do reach out via email. Equally, please get in touch if you ever spot a story that I really should include in the next edition.

For now though, thanks for stopping by. Let’s get to it!

Matt de Neef
Managing Editor | Escape Collective

Got a story tip? I’d love to hear from you! Please reach out via email.

? It’s been a brutal year for Sarah Roy ?

COVID, a fractured sacrum, a giant splinter from a velodrome crash – 2023 has been pretty rubbish for Sarah Roy. With her season now over, the 37-year-old spoke with Escape Collective about her awful year, what she’s learned, and what might be next. Here’s an excerpt from our chat:


Matt de Neef: It looked like the recovery from your fractured sacrum earlier in the year was a really tough one for you. Maybe one of the toughest you’ve had in your career?

Sarah Roy: Yeah, definitely. It doesn’t sound that bad and I know there’s a lot worse things. But rehabbing by yourself with no support … I was in Girona in my apartment alone, my housemate had gone back to Australia, everyone’s away racing the Classics, there’s no one in Girona. And your sacrum – it’s like literally, the centre of your body. I couldn’t sleep. You can’t lay on your side, your back, your stomach – it all hurts. And you can’t sit down all day, so you’re just standing up, tired.

There’s a lot worse things but bloody hell, it was just one of those periods of time that was really shit.


Check out the full interview at Escape Collective.

? Lachlan Morton, everybody ?

We’ve known for years that Lachlan Morton is an absolute beast when it comes to ultra-endurance riding. And yet, his ride on the Tour Divide route over the past fortnight is still hard to parse. The 31-year-old rode the 4,339 km North American bikepacking course from Canada to Mexico in just 12 days, 12 hours and 21 minutes, making him the fastest rider to ever complete the famous route. That’s around 350 km a day, on average, on a route that’s 90% off-pavement. Ridiculous.

There’s a great Q&A on the EF Pro Cycling website in which Morton talks about his ride, including his rest strategy: 12 hours of rest/sleep in every 48 hours. Here’s an excerpt:

I was able to sleep basically six hours every night – plus or minus an hour here and there. Normally doing an ultra like this, you feel like you should always push more when you’re sleeping. You’re thinking, ‘oh, should I be moving?’

Whereas, this time I had to stop for six hours so during that time, I was very relaxed in organizing my stuff and trying to be as efficient as I could so I could sleep more. It changed my mentality a lot. When I was riding, I’d be like, ‘alright, I’m up for it, I can push. I’ve recovered and I need to get to this next spot and then I’m going to relax again.’


You can read the full interview here. Apparently there’s a film coming from Morton’s ride too, so we’ll absolutely be watching that when it drops.

? Rohan Dennis is done?

Rohan Dennis’s racing career is over. The two-time ITT world champ signed on for the GP de Québec in Canada last week, but didn’t actually take part due to injury – he was just there to make up the numbers for a Jumbo-Visma team spread thin across multiple races. Dennis’s last actual race was the ITT at Glasgow Worlds where he finished seventh after crashing just before the final climb (likely where he was injured).

A pro racer since 2009, Dennis ends his career with a terrific 32 wins, including those two world titles and a stage win at all three Grand Tours (two at the Vuelta). Dennis is also part of select group to have worn the leader’s jersey in all three Grand Tours.

Dennis revealed in Canada he’ll continue to be involved in cycling in some way, but that he’s also setting up a vineyard on his property in Adelaide where he hopes to “learn how to produce wine, and hopefully a good wine in the future.” All the best, Rohan!

? Jess Allen will retire at season’s end ?

Speaking of retirement, one of the most popular riders in Aussie cycling, Jess Allen, is calling it quits at the end of this year.

The 30-year-old has competed at the highest level continuously since 2016 and has been with the Orica-AIS/Mitchelton-Scott/BikeExchange/Jayco AlUla setup that whole time.

Allen has just one pro win* to her name – the 2014 Oceania road title – but it’s as a loyal and hard-working domestique that she’s earned her keep (and the respect of so many). Allen will wrap up her career at Tre Valli Varesine, Tour of Chongming Island, and finally the Tour of Guangxi, all in October.

(*She also won the Aussie crit title in 2017, and was the junior World and Oceania champion in the ITT in 2011).

? Results of note ?

✂️ Snippets ✂️

⛰️ And finally … ⛰️

He may be retired, but Richie Porte apparently can’t stay away from Willunga Hill at the Tour Down Under. The Taswegian made Willunga his own during his career, winning there a total of seven times, and he’s set to return next year as part of a public participation ride.

On the morning of the men’s Willunga stage at the 2024 TDU, “amateur cyclists … will leave from the starting ramp in one-minute intervals, with Porte then let loose to chase down the riders ahead.” Fastest male and female on the day will each win $1,000. Porte is presumably exempt from the prizemoney.

If you’re a Porte fan looking for a nice ride down (up?) memory lane, this compilation of his Willunga wins is *chef’s kiss*.


?? Until next time … ??

Thanks for reading! This Down Under Weekly was made possible by our wonderful members here at the Escape Collective. If you’ve already signed up, thank you. If you haven’t yet, but you’d like to, please do. Just click the link in the top right of the page to get started.

And a reminder that if you’d like to receive this round-up via email each week, you can sign up via the button below. And if you’ve got a story you think I should include in the next edition, please let me know.

What did you think of this story?