Former Australian national road champion Darren Lapthorne and his Drapac Professional Cycling Team will open their Subaru National Road Series campaign next week at the Battle on the Border. The team will reportedly be co-lead by Robbie Hucker who, according to Lapthorne may just be the surprise of the tour. Fellow former national champion Will Walker, Tour de Taiwan overall winner Bernie Sulzberger, 2009 Grafton to Inverell winner Malcolm Rudolph and Malaysian rider Amir Rusli fill the six-man squad who no doubt will all be capable of securing a result.
The Australian Continental squad had chosen to skip travelling to the Woodside Tour de Perth and will instead look to Border and the following week's FK Gardner Tour of Toowoomba to secure their first NRS wins of 2013.
Lapthorne won three races during last year's NRS, picking up wins at Tour of the Great South Coast, Launceston to New Norfolk and a stage at Tour of Tasmania but with the recent arrival of his first child suggested his motivation may outweigh his current form.
"I was actually pretty pleased to hear we were getting a start for the Battle on the Border and Toowoomba," said Lapthorne. "They are two Subaru NRS races I've always wanted to do, I think they will suit me pretty well and I'm looking forward to it.
"My life has changed a lot in the last couple of weeks which hasn't been the most ideal preparation for the Battle on the Border but I am certainly more motivated to get some results for my family, for my wife Jessica and my child."
With an apparent question mark over Lapthorne's condition the 2007 Australian road champion pointed to the team's late recruit in 2012 Hucker who most recently finished third at the gruelling Baw Baw Classic.
"I think Robbie Hucker is going the best out of all of us actually, he's really flying and he had a good result a couple of weeks ago at Mount Baw Baw," said Lapthorne of the 2012 U23 Australian XC mountain bike champion.
"I think the racing will really suit him and he might actually be the guy we'll end up riding for in the tour, but at the same time in an NRS race anything can happen and we have so many options."
The Battle on the Border will kick off on May 2 with hilltop finish scheduled at the suitably named Mount Danger. The final climb will take the peloton up a steep finishing ascent that averages nearly 10 percent and provide the general classification riders their first chance to assess the competition.