LUKE Tuckwell's going to have to go it alone in this Saturday's AusCycling National Championships under 23s race at Ballarat.
The Orange cyclist will be riding without a team this year as he takes the step up from under 19s into the under 23s level, where he faces a test over the 139.2 kilometre Buninyong course.
However, Tuckwell doesn't mind riding alone one bit.
In fact, going it alone was how he came close to finding success in last year's under 19s road race.
Tuckwell finished fourth on that occasion after a solo breakaway attempt almost paid off - only narrowly missing out on a podium spot in a sprint to the line.
Despite the step up to a new age group, and with no teammates to work alongside, Tuckwell is hopeful of producing another strong result in his third appearance at Road Nats.
"There's no pressure on me, like in the last year of an age group where you're expected to perform, but after the year in had in 2022 I still expect to do well - and I've trained to do well - in this race," he said.
"I've committed all-in for the road race. There's no external pressure but I really want to do well.
"It's an interesting challenge riding alone but on a course like this it can be an advantage having no-one else. You're not relying on having to chase for someone else or you're not trying to work it all out.
"It means I can just throw the expectation of having to work on the riders in teams. I can just say 'you guys do something, I'm not part of a team'.
During a busy period of his life, Tuckwell has been enjoying some excellent results of late.
"It's been going along pretty smoothly. Post-HSC exams I've had a good run," he said.
"I've had some good racing down in Tasmania, at the Tour of Bright in Victoria plus a good last month of training. I'm manging the fatigue well. All-in-all I've been quite fortunate. I haven't been unwell and it's all been a smooth process."
Tuckwell will also be taking on the time trial on Tuesday but will be making the road race his number one priority at nationals.
The step up to under 23s adds an additional three laps (from nine to 12) and another 35km to the total distance for Tuckwell.
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