Experience is key to Japan hopes

THE knowledge and form of Tasmanians Will Clarke and Jai Crawford will play a key role in cycling's Tour of Japan this weekend.

As Tasmanian riders compete across four continents this week, the Drapac duo head to familiar territory.

Campbell Town's Clarke, who last week led the Tour of Azerbaijan for two days, won the opening stage in the 2012 Tour of Japan, while Crawford, of Hobart, finished as a general classification runner-up in 2008. 

Director of performance Keith Flory said their experience would be crucial to the team.

``Will Clarke will be the appointed leader on the road and we'll be looking to draw on his previous experience in both this race and at the highest level of the sport being invaluable to make the right calls when the pressure is on,'' he said.

``Jai Crawford's knowledge of the Mount Fuji stage in particular is a great addition to the team.''

The UCI 2.2-ranked event runs for a week from Sunday and Clarke and Crawford will be joined by Lachlan Norris, Adam Phelan, Jordan Kerby and Wouter Wippert. 

With the Giro d'Italia devoid of Tasmanian riders for the first time in several years, Matt Goss, Nathan Earle and Cameron Wurf are flying the flag for the state in the Tour of California.

Orica-GreenEdge's Goss, of Launceston, finished eighth on the opening stage and sits 86th overall, 23 minutes off the lead, while Earle has assisted the surge of Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins into the leader's jersey and entered yesterday's 177 kilometre third stage from San Jose to Mount Diablo in 79th.

Fellow Hobartian Wurf admitted things are not going well as he fell foul of some Californian springtime allergies.

``The Tour of California has not really got off to the start I would have liked,'' the Cannondale workhorse said.

``I had the same problem last year and just hoped that I would avoid such problems again, [but] unfortunately [it] didn't pan out that way.''

Wurf said his team doctor was tackling the problem and was optimistic of his health improving in the remaining five stages. 

``Fingers crossed I will come good in the coming days. To be brutally honest I am just happy to still be in the race. I currently occupy the prized position of being the last rider in the race so at least I don't have to worry about anyone fighting me for that!''

In the 62nd running of the Olympia's Tour in the Netherlands, Hobart's Campbell Flakemore is 35th, 1:09 off the lead, after National Team Australia finished seventh in the second stage 23.6 kilometre time trial around Gendringen near the German border.

Tasmanians Hamish Youl, Harrison Musgrave, Gerald Evans and Oliver Martin, fresh from his win in the Midson Roubaix, will ride for Team Polygon Australia alongside West Australian Jason Rigg and Queenslander Anthony Collins in the five-stage National Road Series tour the Battle on the Border, which begins in Point Danger on the Gold Coast today.

Will Holmes is the only other Tasmanian competitor, riding for DH Racing.

Oliver Martin (centre) is among the Tasmanian Polygon team contesting this week's Battle on the Border, fresh from his win in the Midson Roubaix.

Oliver Martin (centre) is among the Tasmanian Polygon team contesting this week's Battle on the Border, fresh from his win in the Midson Roubaix.


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