When it comes to the Australian racing scene, 33-year-old Peter Herzig has done it all. Described by many as one of the strongest guys never to have made it into the elite levels of the sport in Europe and the US, the former mountain biker has struggled to find his groove on the criterium heavy National Road Series, almost exclusively dominated by sprinters.
Herzig's fortunes may be about to change however, with the challenging parcours awaiting the chono and climbing specialist in this week's Jayco Herald Sun Tour likely to make the Budget Forklifts rider a real dark horse for success.
"Having looked at the course book, I was under the impression that the first few stages would really suit the sprinters, but having now ridden the course, it’s actually really undulating," Herzig said to Cyclingnews.
"In that sense I think this year's race really suits me," Herzig said. "With guys like Brian Mcleod, Michael Cupitt and Chris Jongewaard we’re all really good on the climbs, and in a race like this that’ll help us a lot - more than say the Scody Cup or the NRS.
"I think I’ve got a good chance for the overall, or at least having a crack on that final road stage on Arthurs Seat assuming things go well."
Herzig is no stranger to the Sun Tour. He narrowly missed out on a stage win in the 2007 race, after being edged in a two-man sprint against Cameron Jennings. That year, while riding for the now defunct FRF team, Herzig missed the crucial first day break, costing him 12 minutes and any shot at the overall.
In 2011, and with four years more experience under his belt, Herzig hopes to avoid repeating that scenario and give himself the best possible chance to capitalise on "some of the best form of my life".
"Sun Tour’s in the past there’s been a tendency for a critical break to go, and more or less decide the race," said Herzig. "I think this year will be no different. You have to make 'that' move, but you just have to be attentive."
An unrewarded show of strength in the recent Goulburn to Sydney Cycle Classic, where Herzig and Kiwi Josh Atkins forced the day's crucial selection up old Razorback Hill should be a good indication the Sydney native has timed his build up well.
And with time running out on the 33-year-old's late-starting career this year's race may be the last throw of the dice if Herzig is going to ever break into the professional ranks and realise his goals in the sport.
"I’ve been happy to ride with Budget and live in Australia and I’m still enjoying riding, but yeah, I’m banking on a good Sun Tour."
The Jayco Herald Suns Tour start October 12.
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