Jayco Herald Sun Tour: Matthew Lloyd to co-lead Mitchelton Australia National team
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Jayco Herald Sun Tour: Matthew Lloyd to co-lead Mitchelton Australia National team

by VeloNation Press at 5:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Former Giro d’Italia King of the Mountains combines with Sulzberger and Wurf

Matthew LloydSix months after losing his place on the Omega Pharma Lotto team, Matthew Lloyd is making his return to competition in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour this Wednesday. The 2010 Giro d’Italia stage winner and King of the Mountains will be one of the leaders of the Mitchelton Australia National Team in the event and his progress will be watched with great interest.

He has been tipped as possibly moving to the GreenEdge team in 2012, although it is likely that he will be required to show solid form after so many months away from racing.

National performance director Kevin Tabotta is himself a little uncertain as to how things will work out for the rider, but he believes that if he is in good shape, he can show his ability during the five day event.

“Matthew Lloyd is just returning to racing after a little bit of time off,” he said. “He’s a little bit of an unknown, but when he’s on form he is as good as any athlete in this tour. It really depends on where he is at physically and how his preparation has gone.”

The team won’t base all its hopes on the former national champion, though, and so he won’t feel the pressure of being the rider others are depending on to get results. Leadership of the team will be shared with the FDJ rider Wesley Sulzberger, a former world under 23 championship silver medallist, as well as 2007 Oceania Games time trial winner Cameron Wurf (Liquigas-Cannondale).

They will be supported by Australian under-23 world championship representatives Jack Anderson, Joseph Lewis and Ben Hill.

“Within the Mitchelton Australia National Team I think Wesley Sulzberger has had a fairly light season in Europe this year, so he’s quite motivated and keen to finish out the season strongly,” said Tabotta. “Sulzberger comes into the Jayco Herald Sun Tour fresh so that’s really important.

“Cameron Wurf is a great worker inside his team Liquigas-Cannondale and is also very motivated to do well in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

“Then you’ve got three guys who are very keen to do well in Ben Hill, (Jack) Anderson and (Joseph) Lewis, who are all young guys looking to do their part. I think those six guys working together under [directeur sportif] Patrick Jonker will have a real chance for stages.”

One challenge is to draw together six different riders who normally don’t race together and to help them make the most out of themselves as a unit. Tabotta believes that directeur sportif Jonker, who was a pro for twelve years and finished twelfth in the 1996 Tour de France, will be able to draw them together.

“It is true that a lot of these guys have never ridden together before,” he said, “but we’ve got a sports director in Patrick Jonker who has got a lot of experience at this level and he’ll also be assisted on a local level by Dave Sanders.

“I think between those two directors and the six riders, they’ll also be in the hunt for good results.”

Tabotta has the task of overseeing not one but two national teams in the event. The Jayco-AIS squad is a national development team which in the past has helped develop the careers of Australian national champion Jack Bobridge, 2010 world under 23 champ Michael Matthews (Rabobank) and Luke Durbridge, the world under 23 time trial champ.

The riders have been competing in the Australian National Series this year, with team manager James Victor and Tabotta helping make the most of their abilities. The latter said that the riders have been specifically targeting this race, building towards it as a major season goal.

“They’ll be motivated to see how they can test themselves against some of the UCI WorldTour teams,” he said, referring to the Garmin-Cervélo, Katusha, SaxoBank-SunGard, and Omega Pharma – Lotto entries. The It41 (formerly Skil Shimano) Pro Continental team will be taking part as well, and will also be strong competitors.

The Jayco AIS sextet will be lead by Nick Aitken, who was best young rider in the race two years ago, and will be supported by under-23 world champion representatives Malcolm Rudolph, Richard Lang, and junior world champion Alex Carver. The strong 20-year-olds Aaron Donnelly and Patrick Lane will complete that lineup.

In contrast to the Mitchelton Australia National Team, the riders have a history of competing together, although some more than others. ““The Jayco-AIS team have been together all year [although] the guys have had a different race program, depending on what their strengths are,” Tabotta continued. “So this is the end of the season for some guys who returned home early and didn’t do the worlds campaign and will be looking to finish the season strongly with a good Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

“I think the preparation is going well. It is a shame we can’t have some of our stronger riders there, but it’s important we rest a couple of the medallists from the world championships, because they’ve got track objectives coming up. We’ll certainly be in the hunt for stages.”

The world-ranked race begins in Whittlesea on Wednesday with a 174 kilometre stage to Ballarat, and concludes next Sunday with a Melbourne city circuit race.

2011 Jayco Herald Sun Tour:

Wednesday, Stage 1 - Whittlesea to Ballarat, 174km
Thursday, Stage 2 - Ballarat to Geelong, 140km
Friday, Europcar Stage 3 – Geelong Waterfront to Bellarine Peninsula,173km
Saturday, Searoad Ferries Stage 4 - Sorrento - Arthurs Seat, 131km
Sunday, Stage 5 - City Circuit (Lygon Street, Melbourne), 4.1km


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