The Tour of Tasmania has announced the inclusion of the Russian national team to the line-up of the gruelling 542.7 kilometre event, the ninth of the National Road Series calendar which starts October 4. The event will be the fourth and final race of the Scody Cup.
The full squad of eight riders is yet to be announced, but race organisers have confirmed that the four members of the silver medal-winning team pursuit from the UCI Track World Championships in March will make the trip to Tasmania. Alexander Serov, Alexei Markov, along with Ivan and Evgeny Kovalev were pipped for the gold medal by Australia. The team will be managed by Russia's national cycling coach, German-born Heiko Salzwedel.
Tour director John Craven said the Russian's presence would be a huge boost for Tasmanian cycling.
"The original contact came from Heiko who worked at the Australian Institute of Sport in the early 1990s," he said. "There are dozens of races around the world at that time of the year that Heiko could have worked towards, but he was keen on Tasmania.
"This speaks volumes for how the Tour of Tasmania is viewed not only nationally, but internationally."
Earlier this season, Markov won the second stage of the Flèche du Sud while Serov took out Stage 4.The latter is no stranger to Australian domestic road racing having competed in the Cronulla International Grand Prix last season where he finished third. Ivan Kovalev had five top 10 finishes at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China last month.
The team will also line-up for the punishing Launceston to New Norfolk one-day classic on October 2.
The next event on the NRS calendar is the Tour of the Murray, which begins August 28.