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Howard hopes for Tassie victory

Leigh Howard won the Devonport criterium last year

Leigh Howard won the Devonport criterium last year (Image credit: Shane Goss)

Australian rider Leigh Howard hopes to win the Scody Cup series finishing with the 2008 Tour of Tasmania in early October. The annual cup is centred on four events - the Lakes Oil Tour of Gippsland, won by rival Bernard Sulzberger, the Australian Cycling Grand Prix at Ballarat, the Timbercorp Tour of the Murray River, in which Howard triumphed, and finishing with the Tour of Tasmania from September 30-October 5.

Howard, 18, the rising star of Australian cycling, leads the prestigious Scody Cup series narrowly in front of Tasmanians Sulzberger and Nathan Clarke.

"I'm a lot better prepared for Tassie this year and certainly a lot fitter," said Howard, who hopes that his good results will pay off in a European ProTour contract one day. "I was looking through some old programs last night and saw some of the winning names of the cup series. A lot of these riders have gone on to get overseas ProTour contracts - it's a good indication that I am on the right track.

Howard won the Devonport and Westbury criteriums in last year's Tour of Tasmania and surprised all rivals when, as a 17-year-old, he triumphed in the Ulverstone-Penguin stage, via some steep climbs around Gunns Plains.

The six-day Tour of Tasmania will start with criteriums in Devonport and Latrobe on Tuesday, September 30, and end with a grand finale street race at Westbury on Sunday, October 5.