Sanderson showing renewed promise in Georgia

Nicholas Sanderson (Jelly Belly) rounds the turn

Nicholas Sanderson (Jelly Belly) rounds the turn (Image credit: Mitch Clinton)

The Jelly Belly squad is off to a good start at the 2008 Tour de Georgia after their new recruit from Victoria, Australia, Nic Sanderson, landed second place behind Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez in the Stage 1 field sprint.

The Continental squad was something of an underdog coming into the race, but began with a promising representation in the Stage 1 breakaway, followed by Sanderson's US podium debut and the 23 year-old's subsequent lead in the best young rider competition.

"I think the events here are really good especially the Tour de Georgia - there are bigger teams here, which takes a bit of the pressure off of us," said Sanderson. "When you get on the podium or take a jersey that's a big bonus for us."

Sanderson confirmed that his colourfully clad team will not be defending the best young rider jersey, mainly because they have their eyes on bigger goals. "I think our main goals here are to go after stage wins and if we get points toward a jersey along the way, that's great too. We want to be able to get our name out as much as we can here. We've got two riders going for GC here, Michael Lang and Aaron Tuckerman who are our climbers. For me it's all about stage wins and maybe the sprint jersey."

The former track rider is no stranger to fast finishes, having won silver at the 2002 world junior track championships in Melbourne followed by a bronze medal at the world junior road championships held in Zolder later that year.

After a wealth of early success, Sanderson signed a two-year professional contract with the Davitamon-Lotto squad, but that quickly ended mid-way through the first season when he was diagnosed with epilepsy.

"I rode with the national team instead last year, but I had a knee injury too during the time after I was aware of having epilepsy," explained Sanderson. "It's a mild case that hasn't affected me too much so far. I think those last two years were pretty average years for me on the bike though."

Sanderson maintains that his European days may not be finished yet, but that the current employment market within cycling left many riders without contract to compete overseas. "There were a lot of guys without jobs so I was happy to get the spot on Jelly Belly over here instead," he said.

"Jelly Belly is great and they're very supportive. I'm taking American racing year by year and I'm concentrating on putting together a really good year, focusing on my racing here in Georgia and then in Philadelphia week." (KR)

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