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Jayco Herald Sun Tour - 2.1
Australia, October 8 - 14, 2006
By John Trevorrow and Kyle Mackay
It's spring time down-under again, and that means it's time for the Herald Sun Tour where some of the world's best cyclists converge on the state of Victoria to end their long continental pro seasons. This year, 98 riders, representing 14 teams and 13 countries will compete over seven days, seven stages and 820km.
The world's best sprinter, Robbie McEwen, is a last minute addition to the field for this year's Jayco Herald Sun Tour. McEwen made a late request to organisers to add his name to the field for the 55th edition of Australia's oldest stage race. He only arrives back in Australia on Sunday after a short break in Indonesia and will be delivered to the start in Shepparton in style. McEwen will be transferred from Melbourne Airport to Sunday's start in Shepparton by helicopter courtesy of one of the race sponsors HLP Mortgage Co.
McEwen, who went very close to becoming world champion two weeks ago, sounded excited at the prospect of riding in Australia.
"I decided to ride this year because I'm really keen to support the race as it's one of the most prestigious in Australia and it's been too long between drinks, I haven't ridden the race for six years. I was very happy with my form in Austria and it definitely wasn't my legs that cost me the title," McEwen said
Along with McEwen, the line-up for this year's tour contains the defending champion, Simon Gerrans, and McEwen's former team mate and Olympian Henk Vogels, together with a collection of riders who have amassed impressive titles - including three Olympic gold medalists, four world champions, eight Olympians and ten former stage winners in what is one of the strongest fields in the history of the event.
McEwen will ride in the Jayco Australia national team alongside Vogels and Gerrans, who is seeking to become just the fourth rider to defend the Sun Tour title when the 2006 race gets underway in Shepparton on Sunday, October 8th. In total, eight UCI Continental professional teams will contest the tour this year. The DFL - Cyclingnews team heads the list, along with Navigators and the HealthNet-Maxxis team.
The DFL-Cyclingnews.com team is yet to announce a replacement for GC rider
Cameron Jennings, who has had to withdraw due to a broken collar-bone sustained
in a fall in Belgium in late September. Despite losing the team leader, the
British-Australian squad includes five Australians, including Queenslanders
Kane Oakley, Leigh Palmer and stand-in rider Grant Irwin, as well as Tasmanian
Bernie Sulzberger, New South Welshman David Harrigan and Kiwi, Jeremy Vennell.
Navigators will be headed by last year's sprint jersey and final-stage winner,
Victorian Hilton Clarke, along with 2004 third-place getter Ben Brooks (NSW)
and Belgium-based Queenslander Glen Chadwick who will be one to look for on
the finishing climb to Lake Mountain. Irishman Ciaran Power, a dual Olympian
who rode the Giro d'Italia in 2000, American world championship representative
Phil Zajicek, five-time Canadian champion Mark Waters make a team with a strong
The HealthNet-Maxxis team will be lead by New Zealand Olympian and 2004 world scratch race champion Greg Henderson. The 30 year-old has collected eight world cup gold medals on the track and has twice ridden the Herald Sun Tour. Henderson can climb and is more than handy in the time-trial, so the penultimate stage of this year's race should suit him. He will be joined by Tasmanian Karl Menzies, who has collected eight stage wins in America in the past two seasons and wore the leader's jersey for more than half of the Sun Tour in 2004.
Aside from the US & European-based teams, a number of Australian and Asian teams will be making the race this year. The Australian-based UCI continental team, Drapac Porsche, is headed by Olympian Rob McLachlan, former junior world champion Mitch Docker and UCI race winners Stuart Shaw and Darren Lapthorne. South Australia's Savings and Loans team will be lead by Sydney Olympic gold medalist Brett Aitken and current Australian road champion Russell Van Hout, himself a finisher of the Giro d'Italia in 2005.
The SouthAustralia.com - AIS team includes four-time world champions and Olympic gold medallists Peter Dawson and Stephen Wooldridge. Both riders have been mainstays of the Australian team pursuit track squad for the past four years and are building solid road credentials. They will be joined by 23-year-old Victorian Matthew Lloyd, who is a big chance for the overall title. Lloyd has recently signed with McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto ProTour team from next year following consistent performances in 2006, highlighted by his third place overall in the 'Baby Giro' Tour of Italy and fifth overall in the Tour of Japan.
Irish Olympian David McCann - last year's third place getter in the Tour behind winner Simon Gerrans and runner-up Dominique Perras from Canada - will head the Giant Asia line up. McCann will start in his fourth Jayco Herald Sun Tour, hoping to go two spots better than his 2005 effort. Riding for the Irish national team in 2005, McCann won the 11km time-trial up Mount Dandenong last year to put himself onto the podium. From Belfast, McCann has collected a stage win at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China and won the opening prologue time trial at the Tour of Thailand, produced impressive performances at the Commonwealth Games to finished fifth in the time trial and 12th in the road race. He is an Olympic and world championships representative.
For the first time two riders from Iran will participate in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, with 31-year-old Ghader Mizbani Iranagh and countrymen Hossein Askari, also 31, set to create history. The duo currently sit atop the UCI Asian rankings with Iranagh scoring overall titles at the Tour of Azerbaijan, Tour of East Java and Tour of Turkey in 2006. Countryman Hossein Askari is an eight-time national time trial champion and has also had a solid season in Asia, finishing second on the general classification at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, Tour of Thailand and Tour of Turkey.
2006 Jayco Herald Sun Tour stages
Stages & results