Defending Champ in Jayco Tassie Tour

The Tour of Tasmania will be held from October 2 - 7 and, as Tour director John Craven put it, "The rivalry will be fierce, but the competition healthy."

Englishman Kristian House, decisive winner of the 2006 Jacyo Tour of Tasmania road cycling classic, will defend his title next month in pressure-cooker circumstances. House, 28, a member of Britain's Olympic track endurance squad, will captain the Devonport team in the 600-kilometre race. He usually rides for the Navigators team and has won four races recently. House's team-mates in the Devonport contingent will be Queensland sprint star Jonathan Cantwell, the talented Latrobe rider Nathan Clarke and fellow Tasmanians Daniel Cutting and Tim Elmer. The team will be managed by Latrobe's Rick Martin, who has previously mentored champion Australians Robbie McEwen, Henk Vogels and Peter Besanko in Herald Sun Tour squads.

The Burnie team will be led by New Zealander Miles Watson, outstanding winner of the sprint championship in the recent eight-day Tour of the Murray River. The multi-sponsored Burnie team, put together by the City of Burnie Cycling Club, will have four local riders to partner Watson. Prolific state titleholder Aaron Jones, and promising Matthew McDonagh, Tom Robinson and Will Clarke are likely to ride in the Burnie colours.

City of Burnie Cycling Club committeeman Allan Johnson said the contest between the Devonport-Burnie teams would be good for the tour. "Naturally, I'd like to see Burnie win, but the competition will be hot," he said.

Both teams will get an indication of their standing when the tour kicks off with a closed circuit lunch-time criterium in Devonport on Tuesday, October 2. But the following stage – a 90 kilometre gut-buster from Devonport to Sheffield – will provide the top-class field with an early sample of the tour's tough terrain. The stage will take in Don, Forth, Paloona Dam, Lower Barrington, Barrington, Sheffield, Railton, before returning to Sheffield for a main street ending. It will be the third straight year that Kentish Council has hosted a tour stage finish. The tour's grand finale criterium will be in Launceston's Brickfields Reserve on Sunday, October 7.

Backed by Events Tasmania and first held in 2005 in its current format, the tour will be the final round of the 2007 Timbercorp Cup series. The four-part Timbercorp Cup began with the Tour of Gippsland in early August, followed by the Australian Cycling Grand Prix in Ballarat and the Tour of the Murray River. Tenacious Sydneysider Peter McDonald leads the series by 11 points from Queenslander Grant Irwin, with Victorian Patrick Shaw in third place.

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