By Lachlan Morris
ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast cyclist Ashley Mackay is searching for a strong finish to the international part of the season as he chases his long-term goal of becoming a professional.
Mackay will once again provide support for the team leaders in major races in Japan and China starting on Saturday, but is still looking to impress.
He said after many intense training sessions he was optimistic that the team could pick up a satisfying result in Japan.
“Everything’s going well, it’s being managed really well,” he said ahead of the trip.
“At this stage, I’m pretty confident.”
Originally from Perth, Mackay came to the Sunshine Coast last year to be part of the ACA in the hope of eventually earning a contract with a prestigious team.
“The ultimate aim is to be a professional cyclist, riding for a living,” he said.
“Five to 10 years is a very realistic approach and that’s the ultimate long-term goal.”
Since joining the program, the 22-year-old has played a key role in the success of the ACA’s team, contributing to victories at the Tour de Tochigi in Japan and the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China.
Mackay returned from the China event with a minor knee injury and is looking forward to returning to high-level racing.
Filling the position of domestique, Mackay’s job is to help the team leaders in their search for victory.
But Mackay said opportunites were available for a role switch in either Japan or China over the next month .
“There’s a culture within the team … you’re never stuck in one position,” he said.
“It’s more on your self reflection as to make an appropriate call as to how you’re feeling.
“[The team will] try and work in a strategy for everyone to make that possible, and how they deem it possible, so there’s definitely plenty of opportunity there.”
Mackay and the ACA team will participate in a weekend of racing in Oita, Japan from October 13 before the high-profile races of the Japan Cup in the city of Utsunmiya the following weekend.
Mackay, who is also part of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s high performance program, said his move from Perth was made easier by the conditions he trains under.
“The staff, the support network that I have built around me, and the winters make ideal training conditions, so all these factors combined are great aspects,” he said.
The Australian Cycling Academy, which has its central hub at the University of the Sunshine Coast, is a cycling development program and Continental team founded by former professional cyclists Ben Kersten and Matt Wilson.
ACA’s upcoming events
October 13 Ikoinomichi Criterium
October 14 Oita Urban Classic road race
October 20 Criterium
October 21 Road race
Tour of Okinawa, Japan
Tour of Fuzhou, China