TASMANIAN cyclist Cameron Wurf is hoping the best result of his career will set him up for the biggest race of all.
The cancellation of Sunday's final stage of the Herald Sun Tour due to extreme weather conditions may have denied the Hobart 30-year-old the chance to push for victory but secured an overall second place that continues his progression to a possible Tour de France start later this year.
``It's easily my best result, especially given how I had to earn it,'' Wurf said yesterday.
``I'm really pleased with that and how I felt stronger as the race went on.
``I definitely wanted to win it and believed I could, but I was totally happy with the decision [to cancel].
``I was pretty confident, and the stage would have been right up my alley, but it didn't happen.''
Wurf played a key role in the stage-2 breakaway in which Simon Clarke claimed the overall race lead. With the cancellation of the Arthurs Seat stage after consultations between Victoria Police and race organisers, Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) was crowned champion by eight seconds from Wurf with third-placed Jack Haig (Avanti) a further three seconds behind.
Having secured his first podium since joining Cannondale in 2011, most aggressive rider jerseys in both the Herald Sun Tour and Tour Down Under and completed a 14-hour, 400-kilometre training ride with fellow Tasmanian Richie Porte, Wurf will return to Europe hoping for greater roles within the team.
He has three grand tours on his CV including the Giro-Vuelta double last year despite getting sick in the former and breaking two ribs in the latter after Fabian Cancellara's dropped drink bottle wreaked havoc in a neutral zone.
With the team's primary general classification rider Ivan Basso targeting the Giro d'Italia, Wurf's program will incorporate the Tour of Turkey and Tour of California with a view to contesting his first Tour de France.
And with Cannondale's priority being to assist sprinter Peter Sagan to stage wins, Wurf could even find himself pushing for individual results.
``The Tour de France is obviously something I really want to get to,'' he said. ``It's been a goal and dream of mine since before I even thought of becoming a cyclist. There's still a lot of roads and races to ride before then, but it's going pretty well so far.
``The team is still learning how best to handle me and by the time the tour comes around who knows what my role will be. Maybe I could ride a bit more for overall. I could have a huge role, that's the reason why I keep working so hard.
``I'm trying to take out what happened in the last couple of Giros when I got sick. I feel fresher this year and ready to go and California suits me and hopefully offers more opportunities to ride for myself.
``I'm really excited about this year and it's giving me heaps of confidence to keep racing this way.''