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Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac Professional Cycling) leads the break
Drapac to provide Australian with improved 2013 race program
Bernard Sulzberger is no stranger to the Tour Down Under. The Tasmanian first raced the event as an 18-year-old and returns for the second consecutive year with the UniSA National Team after again proving himself worthy at the Australian Championships is Ballarat last week. With the prelude to the official start, the People's Choice Classic already done and dusted, Sulzberger set his eyes on showing himself throughout the week-long tour.
It was Sulzberger's gutsy ride that at the Australian elite men's road race that earned him a spot with the Australian National Team. Sulzberger was part of the group that attacked early around the famous Buninyong circuit and only succumbed as the unstoppable Luke Durbridge powered away to become national champion in the closing stages of the race.
If Sulzberger had managed to stay with the young Orica GreenEdge rider on the final ascent of Buninyong he would have likely contested for the win. Cleverly, Durbridge sensed the danger and the 29-year-old was unhitched with a little more than a lap to go. Sulzberger still managed to finish 10th, coming in to the finish with the small group who sprinted for the minor placings.
"I was happy to still run top-10," said Sulzberger who rode nearly the entire 195.6km race off the front. "It was also a good enough ride [to get a spot] for Tour Down Under."
Sulzberger forms part of an exciting UniSA team for Down Under and believes the exposure generated from the WorldTour race could be highly beneficial for his career.
"I rode it the first time when I was 18, with the national team. This will be my fifth time riding Down Under so hopefully I can have a good one," he told Cyclingnews.
"If you get some good results at Down Under I think doors can definitely open up for you."
Will Clarke is one of the fortunate who used his successful stint with the National squad at last year's race to re-enter the professional ranks. Clarke's solo stage victory sees the former Leopard-Trek rider join Argos-Shimano for the 2013 season.
"Last year you had a guy like Rohan Dennis who was very competitive in the overall and ran top-10 [5th), won the climber's jersey and Will Clarke won a stage. The UniSA team did really well last year and Will Clarke obviously got great exposure out of it."
Sulzberger claimed a number of top-placings during his one-year run with Raleigh-GAC in 2012 but the volatile UK weather proved to be one of the main reasons for his return to Australia. His move to the Drapac Professional Cycling squad was also heavily based around the desire for a bigger race schedule and of course, the most stable weather conditions.
"The weather wasn't the best," he explained. "The UK summer is pretty much non-existent. That was a big deterrent and why I came back to race in Australia. Drapac's program looked pretty good with a few more stage races than at Raleigh.
"I didn't do many stage races at all last year and their [Drapac's] program looked pretty good. It worked out being a better fit to come back here.
The Asia circuit will form a large part of Sulzberger's season but before he plans for Tour of Taiwan, Korea or Qinghai Lake, it's results at Down Under that are high on the priority list.
"My goal will be to get in a breakaway and maybe go for the KOM jersey. Definitely, I'll be looking to get up the road and get some exposure and be aggressive mainly."