By Cyclingnews staff
ProTour squads and some of the world's best riders will surely make this year's Jayco Herald Sun Tour the perfect curtain raiser for a great Australian summer of cycling. Now in its 57th year, Victoria's biggest stage race showcases some of the state's best scenery and culture. Riders travel from Traralgon through to the Victorian Alps and back to the state capital, Melbourne, where cycling is a local religion for some. The Lygon St criterium is a highlight amongst the city's 'Little Italy' district.
Defending champion Matt Wilson returns as the leader for US-based outfit Team Type 1 after he took the title in 2007 with the now-defunct Unibet.com squad. With experienced American Ed Beamon at the helm, look out for the team that supports awareness and treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Wilson will have kiwi rider Glen Chadwick for support, who recently won the overall title at the Vuelta a Mexico and is in the form of his life following an appearance for his country of birth at the Olympics in August.
Team CSC is undoubtedly the big drawcard, with three Australians appearing on the road for Bjarne Riis' squad while Brad McGee's brother, Rod, is calling the shots from the team car. McGee, making his final appearance as a professional rider, will be joined by compatriots Stuart O'Grady and Matthew Goss and they will be on the hunt for stage wins. Talented Dane Lars Ytting Bak will be the supporting firepower, himself capable of taking a win.
Cyclingnews spoke with Bak as the CSC team was introduced in Melbourne ahead of the race, and he was confident of a good showing. "Matthew Goss is in really good shape - he's a good sprinter and he did very well in the Tour of Britain and Franco Belge. I also have good form myself, plus Stuart and Brad," he explained. "It's looking good. I've heard that there are a lot of bunch sprints here, so we're in a good position with Matt and Stuart; we'll see how the rest goes.
"I don't know how hard the long day and the time trial are, and we'd like to go for the GC for sure. In a race like this, 10 guys can go up the road on the first stage, and then you need to be in that group otherwise the GC is gone. You have to be awake because all the stages are short; it's going to be intense racing - you have to be up the front and alert. We'll see what happens."
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