The largest number of Australian cyclists ever to take part in the Trust House Cycle Classic (Tour of Wellington) was announced by the organisers today. After an Australian national development team was confirmed at the last minute, a total of 21 Australians will line up on Wednesday, January 26 for Stage 1 of the 18th edition of the Classic.
The Australian national team is made up of five upcoming riders: Matthew Lloyd, a climber who claimed victory in the toughest stage of the 2004 Herald Sun Tour; Simon Clarke, 2004 Jr World Team Pursuit Champion; Matthew Rex, 2004 Sun Tour stage winner; Jonathan Clarke, 2004 U23 Australian Road Champion; and Patrick Shaw.
"This changes totally this week's race," said race director Jorge Sandoval. "Until last night we had two New Zealanders, Gordon McCauley and Robin Reid and Australian Peter McDonald as favourites for the race, now with 21 Australians in the event, including their national team, the whole race is wide open.
"To make things even more difficult for New Zealand riders, Jonathan Clarke and Matthew Rex took part in last week's Tour Down Under in South Australia racing against a top international field made up mostly of Tour de France riders. This time could be the first time since 1998 that our tour has an Australian winner.
"This is the best thing that could happen to the Trust House Cycle Classic. This year's race will be an ANZAC affair and keeping up with the tradition, the Australians would love to come here and win this year's event. The Australian riders are race fit after a number of international races in Australia since the 2nd of January and keen to do well".
Another Australian team that has been confirmed is the MG Xpower presented by BigPond squad, in search of more Continental UCI points. The team will include Australian National (Club) Road and Criterium Champion Tony Mann and New Zealand climber Aaron Strong, as well as Stuart Shaw (ACT), Shaun Higgerson (NSW) and Troy Glennan (NSW).
More information: www.cycletournz.com