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Gun cyclists chase tour victory
12 Jun, 2010 04:00 AM
THIS weekendâ€™s Golden Square Hotel-backed Bendigo and District Cycling Club three-day tour has a new look, with more junior and female riders in the race.
The classic starts today in Newbridge, with many of Bendigoâ€™s best pitting their skill against interstate riders.
Reigning champion Tim Decker through his coaching business `Decked Outâ€™ has brought 13 South Australian riders to this yearâ€™s tour, including 10 young riders from the South Australian Sports Institute.
Among the riders in this yearâ€™s event is Australian junior record holder Dale Parker from Mt Nairne in the Adelaide Hills.
The 18-year-old recently broke the junior world time trial record, and is looking forward to a new challenge in Bendigo.
â€œIâ€™ve never raced this tour before and Iâ€™m expecting it to be tough,â€™â€™ Parker said shortly after arriving at Decked Out Coachingâ€™s Bendigo-based yesterday afternoon.
â€œBeing current Australian champion in the time trial Iâ€™m hoping to do well in the time trial stage and give that a go.
â€œIâ€™m trying to have as many races before the world championships in August. After this Iâ€™ll go up to Toowomba in Queensland and then Iâ€™ll go to Melbourne.
â€œIt would be great to win here in Bendigo.â€™â€™ Parker joins a group of talented cyclists from the South Australian Sports Institute, who will use the Bendigo course as preparation for both national and international events to be held later this year.
Not all of the South Australian cyclists are in the junior ranks, with top female cyclist Amber Halliday also keen to participate in the three-day challenge.
Halliday is no stranger to sport at the highest level, with the now-cyclist having competed at two Olympic Games in rowing.
â€œI have a Bendigo connection,â€™â€™ she said.
â€œI used to row with Hannah Every (Hall) in the under-23 Australian team.â€™â€™â€She always told me that in Bendigo they had an 800-metre rowing course, but I never believed her, but now Iâ€™m here, Iâ€™ve seen it.â€™â€™ Halliday has had plenty of success since making the transition from rowing to cycling, holding the national time-trial title, and said she was looking forward to coming up against some top female competitors in this event.
â€œI didnâ€™t know what to expect, but I do know that cycling is really strong in Victoria, so Iâ€™m not surprised that there will be a lot of female entrants.
â€œItâ€™s great that there will be a lot of talented female cyclists here for this event.
â€œIâ€™m hoping that the bunches here in Australia are a bit more kind than female Italian bunches over there.â€™â€™With an increased number of junior entrants, reigning champion Tim Decker said he expects the quality of racing will be of a high standard.
â€œItâ€™s probably a little bit higher than last year, for sure.
â€œThe standard is better as in the juniors have done a lot more,â€™â€™ he said.
â€œThe competition last year was mostly senior open athletes, whereas this year itâ€™s more young guys racing.â€There will be younger, keener, fitter kids racing.â€™â€™Although Decker acknowledges the competition may be tougher, he said coaching one of his juniors to success was the next step for him as a cyclist.
â€œIâ€™ve achieved one of my goals in winning it last year and getting my name on the honour roll, so now itâ€™s about trying to get one of my young students on the honour roll,â€™â€™ he said.
â€œI see this as part of the preparation for the World Championships.
â€œThis tour has a bit of everything. â€œIt has a time trial, it has a hilltop finish, it has a bit of everything, so it suits these younger riders and female riders.â€™â€™The Bendigo and District Cycling club tour starts at 1pm today at Newbridge.On the first stage, the A grade riders take on a 104km leg, while B grade ride a 65km leg and C grade race a 52km leg.
Sponsors for the three grades of racing are the Golden Square Hotel, Spencers on Mitchell, and Click Control Systems.
The event will conclude in Woodstock on Monday afternoon, with presentations at Golden Square Hotel one hour after the race finish.
Racing for the junior field will start at 10am today at the Emu Creek tennis courts.
The Hadden Farren Land Surveyors-backed two-day junior tour winds up tomorrow afternoon on the Mayfair Park circuit in East Bendigo.
KEEN TO RACE: Amber Halliday (front) and the cycling squad from South Australia that will compete in this Bendigo club tour. Picture: CHRIS McCORMACK