By Greg Johnson
Organisers of Scotty's Race, an Australian event dedicated to the memory of the late Scott Peoples, are determined to make the race an annual event following its successful first running at the weekend. The 126 kilometre race in Shepparton, Victoria attracted some of Australia's top domestic riders including race winner David Pell (Savings & Loans), reigning Australian road champion Darren Lapthorn (Drapac-Porsche) and Rabobank's William Walker.
"We were rapt with the event this year," said event director Adam Furphy. "We put a huge amount of effort into making this a great event and it seems from the feedback that it worked."
Peoples, a promising young cyclist from the regional Victorian city, was tragically killed in December 2006 after being struck from behind by a Nissan Patrol four-wheel drive while training on the Maroondah Highway in Merton, Victoria. The 19 year-old had just returned from New Zealand's Tour of Southland, where he claimed two stage victories, and was believed to be on the verge of signing a contract to race in Europe this season.
"We really wanted to create an event that put a regional cycling event right in the middle of town to get maximum exposure," said Furphy. "At the same time we wanted a very safe event and one that was great from a rider's perspective.
"I guess as people who follow cycling we are a bit tired of hearing a ball by ball description of a second rate cricket match when at the same time there are some great cycling events," he continued. "You can't change the world in one go but Scotty was really frustrated at times at the lack of recognition the sport received."
The event's success follows on from the successful running of a fundraising dinner for the Scott Peoples Foundation last month, which was attended by Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto). Evans joined fellow Australian Tour riders Simon Gerrans and Brett Lancaster in donating jerseys for auctioning off on the night.
"One of the things that helped make our race a success was the support from Cadel Evans," said Furphy. "We raised $20,000 that night and much of it was due to his generosity with his time - awesome bloke."
The team behind Scotty's Race is now hoping to continue the momentum it's gathered to make the event an annual race. "We will definitely be trying to make this an annual event," said Furphy. "We want it to be one of the premier races in the country and we have had a really good start."