2010 GMHBA Tour of Geelong - Preview
Incorporating the Victorian Open Road Championships, the GMHBA Tour of Geelong returns for another year with a week full of action.
The second leg of the Scody cup and fourth leg of the National Road Series kicks off in Geelong, 73km South of Melbourne on Wednesday.
The cyclists will start the tour with a 48km criterium in the morning at North Shore followed by a 78.6km road race from Lara to You-Yangs, 26km North of Geelong. Grovedale will host a 63km criterium on Thursday and then a 20km time-trial in Portarlington on Friday will mark the start of the Victorian Open Road Championships.
Stage five on Saturday will start and finish in the small township of Anakie with a 143km race for the men and 95.4km for the women. The tour and championships conclude on Sunday with a forty–five and thirty–six criterium for the men and women respectively at Geelong Eastern Gardens.
Headlining the 2010 tour is five time New Zealand champion, Gordon McCauley.
At the Tour of Gippsland, in which he was the inaugural winner in 2005, he mentioned that he might head back to New Zealand and prepare for the Commonwealth Games in October. However, a twenty kilometre time trial tempted the thirty-eight year old as it gave him a strong chance to win the Tour.
’I wasn’t originally intending to come back for Geelong but the flat-track time
trial at Portarlington has swayed me,’ he said.
’I seem to be in good form, which is pleasing because I do a lot of coaching
these days. If I can put a nice time trial together, maybe I’m a chance to win the Geelong
tour,’ he added.
There are a host of other contenders that McCauley will have to contest with including the in-form Pat Shaw (Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans), who has won the last two Australian tours taking victory in the Tour of Toowoomba and the recent Tour of Gippsland. However, the time trial is the obstacle Shaw needs to cross if he is to claim a third consecutive win.
’My time trialing has been appropriate for the time I have allocated to it. I am looking to enjoy it – it’s not very often we do time trials in Australia. I think I could possibly pull a very pleasing time trial which is all I’m concerned about. We have a few riders in the team who are good in the discipline,’ Shaw described.
If Shaw is out of contention after the time-trial, he will focus his attention on helping his team-mates, who were instrumental in helping him the last two months.
’I will be indebted somewhat to these guys for a long time. Without them, my wins would have been unachievable. At Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans, we are always open to ride for whoever looks like the best chance to win. All the guys within the team can pride themselves on their high level of positivity, mate–ship, support and morale. It’s an absolute pleasure to be part of such a great environment,’ the twenty–four year old added.
According to Shaw, the race will come down to the time trial and consistency. ‘There is enough in this course to open up some big time gaps depending on how the riders race. I can’t wait to get back out there again and enjoy the hard terrain Geelong has to offer.’
The race also marks the return of four-time National Mountain Bike Champion, Chris Jongewaard. The thirty-one year old has had a tumultuous three years after being convicted of aggravated driving without due care and leaving an accident scene after the car he was driving collided with former team-mate Matthew Rex at Normanville, South Australia, in 2007. He was sentenced September last year for two years in jail with a non-parole period of nine months. He spent seven months in jail after being released early back in April for good behaviour. Shaw is pleased to see him back on the bike.
’I think it’s fantastic to see Chris returning to domestic racing. He is such a great rider with whom I have the upmost of respect for.’
Genesys Wealth Advisers cycling team are sending a strong squad with Dylan Newell, Joel Pearson and Steele Von Hoff among the six riders. Genesys will be focusing on stage wins. However, with Ben Grenda getting a virus over the weekend, the consistent Tasmanian won’t be at the start. Whilst it’s bad luck, team director Andrew Christie-Johnston is confident Genesys can make a strong mark on the race.
’It’s unfortunate Grenda got sick. However, we have riders in good form and some good time trialists. The target for us are stage wins. If we have a rider in contention after the time trial, we will then focus on the general classification but the first few stages is all about getting your riders in good positions,’ Christie-Johnston said.
In regards to the National Road Series, Ben Dyball is leading the way on 355 points with team-mate Cameron Peterson second on 300. Tasmanian Will Clarke, who shortly begins his stagiaire role with Ag2r and West Australian Luke Durbridge, currently racing in Europe are on 293 points and won’t factor in the overall standings. Nathan Earle (Genesys Wealth Advisers) is next on 265 points with Pat Shaw behind him on 218 points. Alastair Loutit (McDonagh Blake-Witness) heads the rest on 193 points. With three Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans riders high up on the list and one capable of pulling off a strong time trial on Friday, they could get themselves in a commanding position with three races to go in the competition.
Other riders to look out for are Rohan Dennis, Richard Lang & Alex Carver (Jayco Skins), Joe Lewis (Drapac Professional Team), Rico Rogers & Cameron Jennings (Budget Forklifts), Adam Phelan and Alastair Loutit (McDonagh Blake-Witness), West Australian Michael Freiburg and Malaysian Harrif Saleh.
Emma Lawson (Lawson Homes Cycling Team) will headline the Women’s race with Joanne Hogan, Rebecca Doolan, Kendelle Hodges and Jenny Macpherson.