Ockerby in battle to be fit

TASMANIAN scratchman Luke Ockerby is facing a race against time to be fit to ride in the Christmas carnivals series.

Ockerby is still nursing injuries suffered in a fall in Belgium last month and was a late withdrawal from Sunday's Stan Siejka Cycling Classic in Launceston.

``I've been told to have another week off the bike and then I'm looking forward to resuming training but realistically it is going to be hard for me to compete,'' he said.

Ockerby, 21, is the only Tasmanian handicapped to ride off scratch at the Christmas carnivals which begin at Latrobe on December 27.

He became one of Tasmania's youngest scratchmen after winning the Devonport Wheel, the Kym Smoker Memorial Wheel twice and the Austral Wheel in Melbourne in 2011.

He also won the Stan Siejka Classic in 2011 and said just being a spectactor at Sunday night's criterium was the hardest thing he had endured.

Ockerby suffered bruising to his back and ribs and hurt his shoulder ligaments when he fell three times during the UIV Talents Cup run in conjunction with the Ghent six-day race.

``One of the falls was harmless but I knocked myself around in the other two,'' he said.

Ockerby has been told it will be four to six weeks before he fully recovers.

He partnered German Achim Burkart in Ghent and Burkart has travelled with Ockerby back to Australia and will ride at the carnivals.

``Achim had a ride in the Launceston criterium and finished in the bunch,'' he said.

Burkart will get his first taste of handicap racing at this Sunday's Burnie carnival and will also ride at Rosebery on December 21.

Ockerby has revealed that he has signed a one-year contract with Canadian-based team Garneau-Quebecor.

``At this stage I'll be heading to Canada in April and will be living in Quebec,'' he said.

com``Garneau-Quebecor is a UCI Continental team and my biggest focus will be on criteriums in the United States.''

Ockerby will be joined by Sydney's Jake Kauffman.

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