The Honda Hybrid Women's Tour will return as part of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour program from Wednesday October 12 through 16, as the world's road racing focus returns to Australia over the northern hemisphere's colder months.
The five-stage race is also event number five on Cycling Australia's National Road Series, providing a unique racing opportunity for women's cycling and a handy prize purse with $5000 up for grabs. With limited opportunities for Australian women to compete on home soil it is a welcome addition to the summer calendar.
After the Tour's inaugural outing in 2009, when a field of 80 women lined up for three stages and Australia's Rochelle Gilmore took out overall honours, the race already has growing international credibility, and potential to become one of the leading races on the world cycling circuit given the expansion of the event for this 2011 edition.
The women's Russian national team has arrived Down Under with their male counterparts ready to take on the likes of former Australian time trial champion Bridie O'Donnell (XOSIZE). But with 13 teams currently registered over a five stage tour the race is wide open.
Leading the charge for the locals is a host of young riders who will be keen to make their mark including a strong team from Pure Tasmania & Deloitte containing NRS leader Grace Sulzberger, and Taylah Jennings who in August took home two gold medals from the UCI Junior Track World Championships in the omnium and team pursuit.
Suzuki/Trek's Rebecca Wiasak trails Sulzberger in the NRS rankings and will be keen to close the gap. The Canberra-based former middle distance runner and triathlete took out the last-up event, the Tour of Geelong and should perform well over the similar parcours. Wiasak will enjoy great support and perhaps even competition, in the form of teammate Allison Rice, Australian under 19 individual time trial champion.
Other riders to watch include Team SiS - NSW pair Sue Forsyth, India Faehndrich, Jo Hogan (VIS Womens Road Team) and Grace Elvin.
The tour will commence at Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, move onto the purpose-built criterium course at Belmont then head into Drysdale before hitting the mountain stage from Sorrento to Arthurs Seat, the final stage showcased in Lygon Street, Carlton.