The fifth round of Australia's National Road Series, the second of the Scody Cup – the Geelong Tour is far from easy and kicks off with a 48km criterium on Wednesday, August 10. The 407 kilometre tour will also take in Lara, the You Yangs, Grovedale, Gnarwarre, Ceres and Anakie before ending in Geelong's Eastern Gardens on Sunday, August 14.
Headlining the six-stage race will be current NRS rankings leader Nathan Haas (Genesys) who holds a 190-point break on teammate Steele Von Hoff. Genesys come off dominant performances in the opening four events of the Series with Nathan Haas [Mersey Valley and Canberra], Pat Shaw [Toowoomba], and Von Hoff [Gippsland] getting the team's season off to the best possible start.
Tour director John Craven predicted an international future for the two rising stars.
"It would not surprise me in the least to see Nathan and Steele in the Tour de France inside the next four years," Craven said. "Steele has a brilliant turn of speed. He won four of the five criterium stages at Gippsland. "Nathan is an outstanding climber. There is something in the Tour of Geelong for both of them."
Also appearing at the Geelong Tour for the first time in the 2011 NRS, will be the V Australia team featuring Hayden Brooks, Cameron Peterson, Ben Kersten, Scott Law, Nicholas Walker, Christopher Winn, Cameron Bayly, and Duncan Houston all keen to shake up the Series.
The final three days of the Tour will incorporate the Victorian open road championships, and will also feature the inaugural three-day GMHBA Women's Tour of Geelong. There, breakaway specialist Grace Sulzberger, the baby of one of Tasmania's most acclaimed cycling families, will line up.
Sulzberger, 22, is on the comeback trail after a brief semi-retirement and is leading Cycling Australia's inaugural national women's road teams competition this year. She won the recent Canberra Tour in dashing style after a daring road race breakaway and will contest the Tour of Geelong in the small Pure Tasmanian Deloitte team, with Emma Lawson and Sarah Cox as her partners.
Grace, a hairdresser from the tiny hamlet of Flowery Gully in Tasmania's north, is on a mission at the Geelong Tour.
"Yes, of course I can win it, definitely," she said. "I had two years off the bike because I needed a break but now I'm loving it. I am really eager about the Tour of Geelong."
The Women's Tour of Geelong will be raced in three stages, with a 28.2km time trial at Gnarwarre on Friday, August 12, 95.4km road race at Anakie on the Saturday and 36km criterium in the Eastern Gardens at 1p.m. on the Sunday.