By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Australia is the next stop on David O'Loughlin's itinerary. From Cong, Co. Mayo in Ireland, David's program will include a start in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, which gets under way next Tuesday, January 17. It is recognised as the start of the season for cycling on the global level.
David has had his contract with the American based Navigators Insurance outfit renewed for another season with a very formidable team that is based in New Jersey.
The notion of getting in some stiff competition before he heads to the European scene in the next couple of months is a welcome innovation. "I have been to Australia on a number of occasions and the racing is very fast which will suit the Navigator's lads," said O'Loughlin. "As national champion, I have a lot to live up to, because I will wear the Irish champions jersey and in that part of the world there is tremendous interest from the ex-pats."
Ed Beamon of the Navigators Insurance team is quietly confident that David will be in the mix over the seven stages. "The 'tour' in recent years has had a tendency to suit the sprinters, which I have to say is a real bonus for us and David in particular," said Beamon. "Last season he made his debut for the team, and despite the fact he was new to the outfit, he settled in well. Basically your David is a team member. He is a good listener and the team members gel with him, which is important.
"Hopefully we can get our sprinters in the thick of the action and that David will be on hand to capitalise on our behalf."
High local hopes for the race are on Queenslander Allan Davis, who is racing for the Liberty Seguros-Würth team again. The boys in blue dominated the race last year, with Luis Leon Sánchez winning the overall classification.