GAINING its first National Road Series yellow jersey has lifted the bar for Tasmania's Polygon cycling team.
The series' seventh leg, the five-day Tour of the Great South Coast, begins in South Australia tomorrow and the team is confident it can improve on the leader's jersey claimed by Launceston's Ben Grenda at the Tour of Gippsland last week.
``We started that tour like a house on fire but finished it really badly so will be looking to improve on that,'' said David Martin, who will take over from Mark Matthews in managing the outfit.
Both men were encouraged by the showing in Victoria when Grenda finished third and second in the opening stages before bad luck and illness intervened.
The former national under-23 criterium champion was involved in a crash with one of the motorbike riders which contributed to him losing the lead on stage three and had to withdraw soon afterwards when a knee injury flared up. Teammate Ben Price crashed heavily and although the Queenslander recovered to finish seventh in stage two he later pulled out along with Ollie Martin (gastro) and Sam McCullum (chest infection), leaving just Matthew Nicholson and Jason Rigg riding the final stages.
Grenda, Martin, Nicholson and Rigg will be back on the startline in Mount Gambier along with fellow Tasmanians Aaron Jones and Gerald Evans and Queenslander Ryan Macanally, fresh from a stint in Italy.
``I think we'll go in with the same attitude and ambition,'' Grenda said.
``I have not ridden this tour before but know there are some flat stages which should suit me and the team so we're definitely trying to take the same approach, stay up the front and try and get on the podium again.''
Matthews said Grenda, who is coming off a national track camp in Adelaide, remained the team's best option in crits and flatter stages, for which Macanally could assist with leadouts, Nicholson improved ``in leaps and bounds'' in Gippsland and fellow teenager Martin's climbing and time trialling made him a future general classification contender.
``Last week was the first time we had led an NRS race which was a big thing for us considering some of the professional teams we are up against,'' Matthews said.
Polygon is far from the only Tasmanian involvement in the Great South Coast tour with Flowery Gully's 2009 Tour of Tasmania champ Bernard Sulzberger headlining the Drapac team and Launceston's Tom Robinson among Andrew Christie-Johnston's strong Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers team featuring former race champion Anthony Giacoppo, of Western Australia.
More than 140 riders from 20 teams are competing, from as far afield as New Zealand, the Netherlands and a Kenyan national team.
The NRS also includes the Tour of Tasmania from September 29 to October 6.