Australian champ making the best of it at home

Instead of touring around the US pro cycling circuit as part of the first Australian based professional MGX Power/Bigpond team these past few months Tony Mann has been grinding out the kilometres on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, preparing to defend his National Road Cycling Championship title and building up for the Australian season.

"The whole team was really disappointed when MG Rover dissolved and so too our hopes of being able to afford to travel overseas. Who would ever have thought such a big name car manufacturer would just go bust like that?" said Mann.

Telstra Bigpond has confirmed its support along with some product sponsors, but the team is currently seeking a major sponsor. "This is the first Australian based pro team and we really need Australia to back us - racing is not cheap," said Mann.

Just prior to the National Road Cycling Championships Mann will take part in the Tatts Cup and Tour of Murray River in the next few weeks. "This is stage racing so it will be a good lead into the road nationals," Mann said.

Following the National Road Cycling Championships the team will head over to New Caledonia, for a 7 day stage race. "This a fantastic stage race, over 7 days, myself and Rob McLachlan did this tour a couple of years ago and I am hoping to improve my last result (2nd) and win.

"After that we will (the team) be competing in the major Australian stage races, Sun Tour and Tour of Queensland. This actually works well for us because most of the European based pro's come and race on our territory.

Kicking off the cycling festival is the inaugural Caloundra Big Bike Ride on August 28, a 10km, 30km or 50km cycle to raise money for Camp Quality, a mass participation fun event for everyone. The National Road Cycling Championships kicks off in Yandina on Saturday 3 September with the National Junior Road Cycling Championships incorporating Under 15 and Under 17 age groups and will run until Sunday 11 September.

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