By Paul Verkuylen
The Australian cycling series known as the Tattersall's Cup will now be known as the Timbercorp Cup. Organisers announced the title sponsorship deal with Timbercorp yesterday, with the agribusiness expected to inject a total of $850,000 into the four part event. The new deal heralds a new era for the series, which has been known as the Tattersall Cup since its inception in 1996, when it was merely three one day races in Victoria.
"Timbercorp's involvement will enable the former Tattersall's Cup series to continue at the same elevated level of professionalism and excellence," said Cup director John Craven.
A major employer and investor in rural Victoria, Timbercorp is proud to be the title sponsor for the series "We are especially pleased that the event will allow hundreds of rural communities across four states of Australia to experience the event and see the sport's leading cyclists and future champions," said Timbercorp CEO Robert Hance.
The series, comprising of four individual races, consists of 22 days of racing over a nine week period. The series kicks off on August 1 with the grueling five day Tour of Gippsland, which takes place in a region ravished by flood waters in the past six weeks.
The series of races has been a breeding ground for some of Australia's best talents and is used as a stepping stone to professional careers in Europe and the USA, with many former winners of the series having done just that. Previous winners of the Cup include Wesley Sulzberger, Robert McLachlan, William Walker, David McKenzie, Eddie Salas, Ben Brooks and Robert Tigello, with both McLachlan and Tigello having taken the title twice in their career.
For the first time in the event's 12 year history, the series will span four states, with the addition of South Australia to this year's series. Cycling Australia's chief executive Graham Fredericks paid tribute to the series' growth and development which has seen races like the Tour of the Murray River grow from three days in it inception to eight days in its current format, which makes it Australia's longest bike race.
"The Timbercorp Cup is unquestionably one of the most important events on the Australian cycling calendar," Fredericks said. "It's a breeding ground and stepping stone in the career paths for young cyclists, and an increase to 22 days this year is fabulous for our sport."
The series is run based on a points system to crown the most consistent rider the overall Timbercorp Cup champion. With prize money of over $122,000, the Cup is set to be hotly contested as all three major teams based in Australia will be fighting for the win.
The program for the series is:
August 1 - 5: Tour of Gippsland
August 17 - 19: Australian Cycling Grand Prix at Ballarat
August 26 - September 2: Tour of the Murray River
October 2 - 7: Tour of Tasmania