Australian national champion Russell Van Hout will spearhead a record field of 199 riders in this weekend's Shire of the Southern Grampians - Coleraine Tour. Van Hout is keen to impress on the local scene after his omission from the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games road race. The four-stage, two-day race will be the first major outing for the recently established Australian UCI continental team, Savings and Loans. Van Hout will be backed by a strong team, including Olympic gold medalist Brett Aitken and young guns James Hannam and Will Dickeson. Aitken is expected to make his mark on the shorter, faster stages and the criterium.
However, the South Australian based team will certainly not have everything their own way, and will face fierce competition from Victoria's best, including Drapac Porsche rider Darren Lapthorne, and current junior world pursuit champion Michael Ford (AIS). Another rider to watch is the talented Nick Sanderson, following his return to Australia from Belgium team Davitamon Lotto. Leigh Egan heads the strong 'Decked Out Coaching' Team, whilst the in-form Jai Crawford and the Pratties team also poses as a major threat. Riders such as Queensland's Bradley Payne and the A.C.T's Fabio Calabria (ACTAS) add additional depth to the field.
This year's edition of the Shire of the Southern Grampians - Coleraine Tour will include a women's race for the first time. VIS rider Peta Mullens (Caulfield-Carnegie) is the strong favourite, but riders likely to spoil the party include exciting junior Lisa Friend, who impressed at the Baw Baw Classic last weekend, Albury rider Deb Fagg, and the consistent Alicia Evans.
For more information see www.colerainetour.com