By Paul Verkuylen in Adelaide, Australia
New Australian Road Champion Matt Lloyd is in a tricky situation. A few weeks ago he told Cyclingnews that he's taken pre-season training a lot more relaxed than previously, but after winning the title last weekend, his name is now amongst those being thrown around as candidates for the overall victory at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia on Sunday.
The second year professional, who hails from the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, is quietly confident of achieving a good result. "I'm confident," he declared. "Having raced here before and knowing the style of racing that it is, and with the form that I had last week, I can be confident, but being in the position to win the race overall is another thing because it is a week of ProTour racing."
"If that doesn't occur, then there is always the possibility of stages," he added.
Lloyd is waiting to see how the race unfolds, but will be keeping a keen eye on those making the race hard. "I think that the GC will unfold by people who are more antagonistic, and once that happens it will happen," he said. "The day it does happen it might blow out to a huge margin; that is the one to watch out for."
Lloyd is realistic about his chances in the ProTour field assembled in Adelaide, despite having finished fourth overall last year. The youngster's success with the Silence-Lotto team has meant that management has placed some pressure on him to capatalise on his recent display of good form. "I have to constantly remind myself that it is January and everyone is still experiencing the same sort of feeling," he said, referring to the length of the season ahead.
"I think that there might be more sprint finishes than years previously, with a lot of guys at about 80 percent of their form compared to mid year," he added. "A lot of guys will be wanting that to happen."
Lloyd has earmarked a number of stages as possible danger stages, believing the stage to Harndorf along with the stage over Willunga hill are the ones which he will have to pay special attention. "A few hot days towards the end of the week, which the Euros will maybe not be used to, may take an impact, but it is not as hot as in the past," said Lloyd. "So it creates a really open situation for everyone."
Lloyd is happy with his form so far, a factor he attributes to the racing that he has done over the last 12 months. "Last year the racing at the Worlds and Lombardia, at ProTour level made me go really deep, but it has also meant that I haven't had to do that much training on an intensity level through out December to bring it [the form] up again," he said.
Lloyd, the current Australian National Road Champion, will be writing a regular diary for Cyclingnews throughout the Tour Down Under.