Sydney Olympic Games gold medalist Brett Aitken has entered the Jayco Tour of Tasmania and has his eye fixed firmly on winning the criterium championships.
The Adelaide-based Aitken, 36, said today he was fitter than he had been for the past four years and was eagerly anticipating the challenge of the six-day tour which starts in Devonport on Tuesday, October 2. "I'm not in super condition, probably about three kilograms too heavy, but I am looking forward to having a go in the criteriums," he said. "I'll probably struggle in the hills but there are enough flat stages for me to hopefully have a pretty good tour."
Aitken will contest the tour with his Savings and Loans team which also contains the in-form David Pell, of Bendigo. There are five criteriums in the 11-stage Tour of Tasmania and all of them should provide superb viewing for spectators. Criteriums will be held in Devonport, Ulverstone, Burnie and Westbury before the grand finale street race at Launceston's Brickfields Reserve on Sunday, October 7. The criterium championship will be sponsored by the Country Club Tasmania which has linked with the Launceston City Council to host an entertaining range of family activities in the Brickfields Reserve on the final day.
Aitken teamed with Victorian Scott McGrory to win the Madison gold medal at the Sydney Olympics but has struggled for form and motivation ever since. He showed glimpses of his true class in winning the opening criterium of the Tour of the Murray River in Echuca on August, 26 and finished a close second to fellow Olympian gold medalist Peter Dawson in the event's final street race in Waikerie, South Australia. "I gained a lot of confidence from the Tour of the Murray River," Aitken said.
The Jayco Tour of Tasmania is the final leg of the four-part Timbercorp Cup National Cycling Series. The Timbercorp Cup series began with the Tour of Gippsland in early August, followed by the Australian Cycling Grand Prix in Ballarat and the Tour of the Murray River. Sydneysider Peter McDonald leads the series by 11 points from Queenslander Grant Irwin, with Victorian Patrick Shaw in third place.