Riders on home straight

TWO hundred riders from seven countries will contest this year's Christmas carnivals series but they can expect plenty of competition from the host state.

These seven talented teenagers already boast a healthy haul of national and world track titles between them and will also be looking to improve on some impressive carnivals credentials over the next week.

Along with his father Graeme, Tasmanian Institute of Sport head cycling coach Matthew Gilmore is one of a handful of cyclists to win all four Christmas wheelraces, and he  said he was delighted to see national cycling promoter John Craven come on board to revitalise this year's series.

``We've been saying for a while that we needed to change the carnivals,'' said Gilmore, who also helped coach Glenn O'Shea to a clean sweep of wheelraces last year.

``Whether this is the right change we'll probably know by January 1, but it's great that John's come on board and brought fresh ideas, and we should all welcome that approach.

``It will generate fresh interest, which is exactly what's required.''

Gilmore, whose latest crop of riders are all juniors except Perth's 19-year-old Georgia Baker, said the week-long series remained  relevant to promising Tasmanian riders.

``In my short time back one thing I've emphasised is that we will be racing a lot more, from club racing to the Christmas carnivals, because there is no substitute for racing in terms of what they can learn from a technical and tactical point of view.

``It's also important for them to be in the public eye so others can see them racing and aspire to that.''

Gilmore's training group includes junior world championship representatives Baker, Lauren Perry and Macey Stewart plus the best young male Tasmanian riders including Launceston trio James Robinson, Hamish Youl and  Isaac Probert and Hobart's Gerald Evans, fresh from a bronze medal in the junior national omnium.

While they have taken full advantage of access to the Silverdome, venue for the Launceston Carnival on December 28, Gilmore said they would  also benefit greatly from the inaugural criterium series which Craven has introduced.

``The crit series will be particularly good for riders heading to the national road titles because again there is no substitute for competition and it will be good for them to ride both the crits and carnivals,'' he said.

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