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Tour of Tasmania - NE
Australia, October 2 - 7, 2007
By Rod Morris
If its tough picking a winner of the Melbourne Cup when you have a starting list of 24 runners, imagine the heartache of trying to select a champion of the Jayco Tour of Tasmania cycling race when there are 101 starters!
Admittedly of the 101 riders, there is a fair percentage that don't have genuine chances of overall honors are really there to either chase stage wins or work for other riders.
But after watching closely the performances of all riders over the last two months the genuine list has been narrowed to 23 and even then the winner might come from left field.
The 11 stage Tour of Tasmania is the fourth and final leg of the Timbercorp Cup National Cycling Series, which has replaced - in name only - the Tattersall's Cup, which originated in 1996.
This year's series started with the 8 stage Tour of Gippsland in early August, followed shortly after by the three race Australian Cycling Grand Prix at Ballarat and the revamped 13 stage Tour of the Murray River, which for the first time included races in three states, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.
NSW rider Peter McDonald leads the Timbercorp Cup and won the Tour of the Murray River and naturally enough will be under pressure in Tasmania, particularly from his nearest challengers, Grant Irwin (Qld) and Patrick Shaw (Vic).
Englishman Kristian House will be back to defend his Tour of Tasmania title whilst popular Scotsman Evan Oliphant will also be making the journey "Downunder."
Other internationals included in the field are New Zealanders Miles Watson, Alistair Crossling and Brendan Sharratt and re-located Englishman Tom Southam, who is now based in Victoria.
The Tour of Tasmania will start in Devonport next Tuesday when 101 riders face the starter for the 591 km journey.
Form guide of leading contenders
KRISTIAN HOUSE (ENGLAND): Leading English rider and defending Tour of Tasmania champion. Not afraid to attack when the going gets tough, but could get "out teamed" in this tour. Will need to find some Aussie mates.
BRETT AITKEN (SA): Sydney 2000 gold medal Olympian better known for his exploits on the track. He has however won eight previous races in the history of this national series and cannot be discounted in the faster criterium races.Won the opening stage of the recent Tour of the Murray River and was second in the closing stage.
BERNARD SULZBERGER (TAS): Just returned from a moderately successful overseas campaign. Knows what is in store in this tour and will be keen to be the first Tasmanian winner for some time.
PETER MCDONALD (NSW): Leading the Timbercorp Cup series, but by just 11-points. Has won three races in this year's series, the Australian Grand Prix Criterium and two stages of the Tour of the Murray River and expect some hard riding from him to defend his lead. Led the Tour of the Murray River from Stage 2 to the finish.
STUART SHAW (ACT): Talented Canberra rider from the strong Drapac Porsche team. Was second in the ACGP Road Race in Ballarat and is a dual winner of past events in this series.
SHAUN HIGGERSON (NSW): Won the 2005 Tour of Tasmania which shot him to prominence and is now a key member of the southaustralia.com national team. His form this series however has not been striking with a best effort of 30th in Stage 11 of the Tour of the Murray River. Will be working for teammates this tour.
SEAN FINNING (VIC): Gold medal Commonwealth Games rider - on the track, but no slouch on the road. Won the Payneseville Criterium and Mildura Kermesse races in this year's series and will challenge Aitken and Irwin for criterium championship honours.
MARK JAMIESON (TAS): Former World junior track champion and Commonwealth Games medalist but made "roadies" sit up and take notice when he won both the Merbein to Wentworth and Ouyen Criterium stages in the Tour of the Murray River. Suffered a bad fall in the Ouyen - Patchewollock - Ouyen road stage but has now fully recovered and keen to do well in a tour that's in his "backyard."
GRANT IRWIN (QLD): Moved into second place in the Timbercorp Cup, 11-points behind Peter McDonald. In sensational sprinting form, having won the Bairnsdale, Kerang and Merbein criteriums as well as the Kerang to Cohuna road race. Won the Criterium Championship in both the Gippsland and Murray River tours. Will be watched closely by McDonald all week.
PATRICK SHAW (VIC): Is currently in third place in the Timbercorp Cup, but amazingly has not yet graced the podium. A best effort of 4th in the Bairnsdale Criterium is overshadowed by 19 top 10 finishes from 23 completed races.That record could have been even one better had he not been disqualified from the ACGP Road Race after a clash with race officials. Currently 31 points behind McDonald and 20 adrift of Irwin in the national series and will be eager to move up the rankings.
MILES WATSON (NZ): Underrated Kiwi who shot to prominence by winning the Sprint Championship in the Tour of the Murray River. Has scored seven top 10 finishes with a best effort of second in both the Mildura Kermesse and Ouyen Criterium. Comes from a mountain bike background and Tasmania should suit him.
EVAN OLIPHANT (SCOTLAND): No stranger to Australia, having won the 2005 Warrnambool Criterium and 2005 Kym Smoker Mersey Wheelrace (track event). Comes from a good stable, but might be undermanned.
DAVID KEMP (QLD): Former Sprint Champion of the Tour of the Murray River and winner of the 2006 ACGP Road Race. Has raced well in Europe this year and won the recent Ouyen - Patchewollock - Ouyen race.
JONATHON CANTWELL (QLD): Well credentialed Brisbane rider just back from America. Lightly raced on return but did score a third in the ACGP Criterium behind Peter McDonald and Gary Mueller.
NATHAN CLARKE (TAS): Popular Latrobe rider and winner of the 2004 Latrobe Wheelrace. Noted road rider and winner of the 2002 Herald Sun Tour Sprint Championship. Might be giving too many opponents tour fitness to figure prominently.
LEIGH HOWARD (VIC): Outstanding Geelong teenager with dual world track championships already in his kit bag. Finished eighth in the Tour of the Murray River, including nine top 10s from 13 stages.
SID TABERLAY (TAS): Won the King of the Mountain Championship in the Tour of Gippsland and won the same title in the 2005 Tour of Tasmania. Just back from the World Mountain Bike Championships and is favourite for the KOM title in this tour.
CAMERON HUGHES (QLD): Former Tour of Sunraysia winner and in this year's series was top 10 in both the Tour of Gippsland (9th) and Tour of the Murray River (5th). Best individual stages were third in the Orbost to Lakes Entrance road race and Mildura Kermesse.
HAYDEN JOSEFSKI (QLD): Shot to prominence when he won the Individual Time Trial in the Australian Cycling Grand Prix at Ballarat. That proved to be his only time on the podium, but he did score three other top 10 placings.
BEN MATHER (TAS): Rode consistently in the Tour of Gippsland with four top 10s and an overall placing of third. Hung in there in the ACGP with two more top 10s, but the much flatter Tour of the Murray River bought him back down the Timbercorp Cup leaderboard to sixth. Tasmania will suit him much more than Mildura.
CHRIS JORY (NSW): Consistent Port Macquarie rider who finished second in General Classification in the Tour of Gippsland. Has had five top 10s with twice gracing the podium, second in the Metung to Omeo and third in the Mallacoota road races at Gippsland. Had little impact in the ACGP or Tour of the Murray River.
ROBBIE CATER (NSW): An FRF Courier teammate of McDonald and Jory and has also ridden consistently this series. From 21 completed races (he missed the ACGP), Cater scored 10 top 10 finishes with a best effort of second in the Bairnsdale Criterium and again in the Euston Criterium.
NICHOLAS SANDERSON (VIC): Has finished in the top 10, 10 times from 22 completed races. Won the Paynseville to Dargo road race after a great battle with Peter McDonald and Miles Watson over the mountains. Was also second to Grant Irwin in the Merbein Criterium and has four third placings behind him as well. Under rated with such a high saddle cloth number.
2006 Kristian House 2005 Shaun Higgerson 2004 Not held 2003 Not held 2002 Luke Roberts (Aus) Rio Coffee 2001 Not held 2000 Glen Chadwick (Qld) 1999 Cadel Evans (Vic) 1998 Cadel Evans (Vic) 1997 Alan Iacuone (Vic) 1996 Stephen Hodge (ACT) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com