This week’s Tour of Tasmania will be as much a showcase of the state’s riders as its scenery.
As a 106-strong field makes its way around some of the toughest climbs the state has to offer, dozens of young Tasmanians will be hoping to put themselves on the cycling map.
Eighteen Tasmanians is close to a record home-state representation and all are hoping to hold their own against a field that includes riders from New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.
Launceston’s Tom Robinson leads the charge with the experienced 27-year-old sitting in the National Road Series top 10 following a popular stage win in the Tour of Gippsland.
Several other Tasmanians are sprinkled among the 15 teams along with a large contingent of independent entries while the home state has two full team entries.
TIS Racing will be hoping to make the most of lessons learned in several of the mainland NRS events while Launceston coach Phil Leslie will oversee a strong Van Diemen Cycling team featuring Oliver Martin fresh from a European season and talented mountain bikers Alex Lack, Ben Bradley and Mitch Gittus.
“There are certainly a lot of Tasmanians involved,” TIS Racing coach Matthew Gilmore said.
“Tom Robinson has had a fantastic season with a brilliant ride in the Melbourne to Warrnambool and an excellent stage win in the Tour of Gippsland. He’s in great form and I’ll be interested to see how he goes.”
Gilmore’s team has also turned to experience with Legana’s Josh Wilson returning to the saddle at the age of 33.
“The tour clashes with uni and college exams which affected half our team and we were down on numbers so I approached Josh to see if he was interested.
“He rode in an Italian team several years back and had a few health issues but now wants to get back into it and made a bee-line for the Tour of Tas.
“He and Dan Furmston were going to enter as individuals and have been preparing for the last six months so it’s great to have another couple of Tassie blokes on board and we hope to give it a red hot crack.
“Dan is originally of Hobart and will be great support for Josh and keep him out of the wind and fresh to get up the climbs.”
Gilmore believes his team of six can make the most of its home-state knowledge.
“The team can get up Poatina, Grindelwald and Gunns Plains, those climbs suit this team. We’re not going to be winning the tour but we can certainly give a stage a nudge.
“Jacob Langham from the North-West Coast has been our most consistent rider throughout the NRS. He got a good finish in the Melbourne to Warrnambool and is a consistent hard worker.
“Luke Thompson is a uni student from Hobart who I picked up through Strava after he bounced up Poatina pretty well. He was only a couple of minutes behind Richie Porte’s time up there so I gave him a buzz, tried him out and he’s a good inclusion. He’s a good example of looking at other ways of finding athletes and he’s really developed in the NRS.
“Zac Johnson is an under-19 from Launceston who has learned a helluva lot through the NRS. He’s young and raw and got a lot still to develop.
“Sean Hughes-Roberts, also from Launceston, works with Janelle Smith and was going to enter as an individual but I’ve had my eye on him for six months and offered him a spot to see where he is at.
“That’s what the team is all about, giving Tassie kids a crack.”
The last of eight events in the men’s NRS, the five-day tour will determine its overall winner.
Isowhey Swiss Wellness rider Michael Freiberg is dominating the series standings but his team has been unable to enter its home-state tour.
- Prologue (Monday, November 6): Brisbane Street West, Launceston. Distance: 0.6km
- Stage 1 (Tuesday, November 7) 10.30am: George Town to Grindelwald. Distance: 115.9km. Intermediate sprint #1: 56.9km, Second River Rd; Intermediate sprint #2: 97.5km, Gravelly Beach; KOM #1 (Cat 3): 47.6km, Golconda Rd; KOM #2 (Cat 2): 112.4km, Grindelwald
- Stage 2 (Wednesday, November 8) 10.30am: Launceston to Poatina. Distance: 103.8km. Intermediate sprint #1: 20.5km, Whitemore; Intermediate sprint #2: 65.7km, Cressy; KOM #1 (Cat 1): 103.8km, Poatina
- Stage 3 (Thursday, November 9) 10.30am: Ulverstone to Penguin. Distance: 108.9km. Intermediate sprint #1: 24.6km, Forth; Intermediate sprint #2: 42.7km, Sprent; KOM #1 (Cat 2): 34.5km, Geales Rd; KOM #2 (Cat 1): 78km, Gunns Plains
- Stage 4 (Friday, November 10) 10.30am: Devonport Criterium. Distance: 54km. Lap distance: 1.8km, number of laps: 30. Intermediate sprint #1: 20 laps to go; Intermediate sprint #2: 10 laps to go