At 22 years of age, Mobius-BridgeLane rider Angus Lyons is well aware that this is his final shot at making it as a professional while riding as an U23, but the Australian has given himself the best possible chance, after a really strong season so far, making waves both back home and in the States. Lyons is an ideal GC rider, given he is a strong climber and is able to defend in time trials reasonably well too.
After the team headed to Europe to sample some of the Classic-style racing in the continent’s lowlands, Angus spoke exclusively with U23 Cycling Zone about his season so far, as well as his ambitions for the future.
“My season to date has been primarily focused on developing the experience and physiology to be competitive at a UCI Conti/Pro Conti level. It’s been the first year that I’ve had the opportunity to race with a team internationally. So far racing in New Zealand, The US and Holland. I still have a ways to go developing the race experience at the higher level, particularly keeping a level head when defending a jersey and things are going belly up quickly. Ultimately though it has been a successful beginning to the year, coming away with the young riders jersey from the Joe Martin Stage Race as well as top 10 finishes both on stages and GC on several other UCI .2 races.”
Angus admits his calendar is currently a little up in the air, as the team is hoping for a late invite to next month’s Tour of Utah. Currently in Europe, he hopes to make the team for that race, where he would lead the team in the GC hunt.
“There is a little bit of uncertainty going forward. Currently some of the team are here in Holland racing some of their National Criterium Series, a spot in the Tour of Utah has opened up and it’s looking likely that we will be given the opportunity to race that. It is obviously fairly late notice, so we’re scrambling a little bit to switch from Crit form to altitude climbing form. At the moment we’re to try and find somewhere with altitude and longer climbs to prepare for the race just 5 weeks away.”
Fans of Mobius-BridgeLane will have been pleased to see the team being active on their YouTube channel, where they posted a lot of stage videos from each race they attended in both the US and Australia. The team comes across really well, appearing to be more a group of mates racing in a family atmosphere, where everything is jovial. We asked Angus to tell us a little bit more about the atmosphere within the team this year.
“I think that the team dynamic here at Mobius-BridgeLane is really strong. A lot of the guys here have been with the team since before it was even a competitive National Road Series (Australian Domestic Circuit, ed.) team so they know each other well. I joined mid last year after the Sports Commission decided to cut funding to the state road cycling programs and the guys immediately got behind me and we ended up doing some pretty amazing rides for a small, relatively new team. You are often living with each other for weeks at a time and so I think its important to get on, a team like this exists because everyone wants to be here and wants to push the boundaries of what we can do. The team is still very much in the development stage and I think we all recognise that doing whatever we can for the team will mean bigger and better things down the track and I think Tom (Petty, team manager. ed) has been very good at selecting riders that fit with his idea of what the team should be and what it should stand for. That means a healthy well-rounded mindset that acknowledges that we are going to have periods of friction but also knows that mostly that friction is going to be a result of frustration on the bike and nothing personal. At the end of the day I would say that yes, we are good mates and enjoy working together both on and off the bike.”
Angus has been given a lot more leadership opportunities this season, which he has grabbed with both hands. 8th in the National U23 RR was followed by a successful stint in New Zealand, securing 12th on GC in a stage race there before taking 7th in the Gravel and Tar one-day race, won by teammate Ethan Berends. Angus then placed 6th in the Continental RR champs, before a massive ride saw him take 6th overall and best young rider at the Joe Martin Stage Race. Angus spoke a lot more about leading Mobius-BridgeLane.
“It is something that I have certainly enjoyed, being able to completely cut loose and ride the race how I want to is refreshing. I had the opportunity to do that the last few years on the Institute team but never really had a strong enough team to be able to set the race up how I wanted it to go. This time around the guys are strong enough to look after me all day and then shape the finish to suit me. It is somewhat daunting at the same time, you suddenly have not only your own time, effort and result invested but also the other 5 or 6 guys on the team putting their hundreds of hours of work behind you and having faith that you can turn that into a result that is better than they could have achieved. I think the only way that you can really deal with that pressure is to be as prepared for the race as you can be, making sure that you are looking after yourself as much as you can all race/tour and then when it’s your time to put the power down just stay in the moment. At the end of the day you just have to make sure, win or lose, that you did everything you possibly could to get across the line first. It’s all I would ask of someone I ride for and so, despite the self-doubt and recriminations after a bad day, it’s all you can ask of yourself.”
While Angus holds onto some hope of being selected by the Aussie national team for either the Tour de l’Avenir or the hilly Worlds U23 RR in Innsbruck, Austria, he admits his chances are very slim due to his omission from national squads earlier in the season.
“I was certainly aiming to get a start for some of the U23 stage races but unfortunately it seems the results at the start of the year were not enough to secure a spot. There is a history of last minute call ups due to injury or crashes but at the moment it is not looking likely that I’ll get a start.”
Angus is in the fortunate position of not necessarily needing to go pro at the end of this season. Given he hasn’t raced any U23 specific events outside of his Nationals, he can still access Mobius-BridgeLane’s amazing calendar from 2019 onwards, given they are not an U23 only team. That being said, Lyons would love a chance to move to a squad at either Pro Conti or WorldTour level if the chance arises.
“Being at the end of U23’s the pressure is mounting. The further out of U23’s you go without a pro contract the harder it is to convince a team that you are a worthwhile investment. I will certainly be on the lookout for an opportunity at the next level. However; for once I have a team that has a strong future and good opportunities that I can continue with if nothing big comes knocking.”
Despite his calendar being unclear, Angus, who has three years of university under his belt prior to taking a gap year this season to focus solely on racing, the Aussie climber does have some goals in his head for the rest of the season, specifically in Utah.
“The current goal is Utah, if we get a spot. I would like to really go after the young riders jersey. It is the first 2.HC I have done so I really don’t know what to expect going in. I have seen the list of starters, with some of the biggest world tour teams in the world showing up for the tour it would certainly be a huge ride to take out a top GC spot. After that it is pretty much back to Australia for the domestic circuit.”
Given Angus’ potential as a stage racer, it is not surpring he is drawn to the Grand Tours when aske what his dream pro race would be. The rider who has race with several big Aussie names like Lucas and Chris Hamilton, Sam Jenner, Robert Power, Nathan Earle, Michael Storer, Cam Meyer and Jai Hindley has the Giro d’Italia pegged as his favourite three-week event.
“I think it is every GC rider’s dream to win one of the big 3, I’d have to pick the Giro I think. It always seems to have the most brutal courses and always seems to be less controllable. Just to be able to ride it as a domestique would be amazing.”
Angus Lyons is an amazing prospect who really does deserve a chance at the next level, whether that is in Europe or the States. Failing that, he has plenty of chances to improve with Mobius-BridgeLane in 2019. This is one U23 that, regardless of where he races next season, is going to make a name for himself.
U23 Cycling Zone wishes to thank Angus Lyons for taking time out of his experience racing in Europe to speak with us, as well as team manager Tom Petty for setting the interview up. You can follow Angus here at @angus_lyons, while Tom can be found at @TomPettyPTW. The team can be found at @mobiusBridgeLn.