EMERGING Wagga cyclist Myles Stewart is targeting 2022 as the time to make a statement on the national stage.
Entering his third year with National Road Series outfit Nero Continental, the 22-year-old is determined to move on from two years of COVID frustration and secure some podium finishes.
He will begin his season with two criteriums at the Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits in Geelong this weekend, which he feels is the ideal precursor to next week's National Road Championships in Ballarat (January 12-16).
The pandemic has made life difficult for all sports and cycling has been no exception, with about half the NRS Series cancelled last year.
Stewart wasn't selected to compete in the upcoming Festival of Cycling in Adelaide, formerly known as the Tour Down Under, but will use it as a spur to register some strong results.
He will only contest the criterium at the road nationals along with younger sister Bronte, who has signed with NRS team Sydney Uni Staminade.
"Geelong should be a good lead up for the nationals," Myles Stewart said.
"I'm only doing the crit this year (at nationals), just because I've stepped up to the elites this year and the road race doesn't really suit me down to the ground, I'm a bit more of a sprinter than a climber.
"After that we've got a couple of weeks off then it kicks off again with the Tour of Gippsland and the Melbourne to Warrnambool.
"There's plenty of racing this year, I think they're making up for not much racing through COVID, the first half of the year is pretty packed.
"Australia is a bit better than some places, we kind of just have to live with it now. We're all just trying to do the right thing and hope for the best."
Stewart was happy to learn the ropes in his first two years with Nero but now feels he's in a position to chase some individual results.
"I'm more aiming to race in criteriums and leading into the NRS, hopefully get on a podium or two," he said.
There wasn't too many opportunities last year, there was only three or four races in total instead of the eight scheduled.
"It is very hard when you're training on your own, you target a race and it gets cancelled or postponed. Hopefully this year will be a bit different, and I'll be able to plan my schedule a bit better.
"My main aim is to be at the pointy end of races, to be the dominant sprinter in the team and try and get some results. But if the stage doesn't suit me, to try and help the team and get us up there as much as possible."
Stewart said he has told his sister to be patient as she looks to take her initial steps on the NRS scene.
"I've just told her to take it all in, the more pressure you put on yourself the worse you go," he said.
"It's about taking it as it comes and learning from the experience. There's some good riders with heaps of experience, it's ideal just to try and learn off them."
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