Sulzberger primed to lead V Australia's Tasmanian title defence

The Tour of Tasmania, one of Australia's most prestigious stage races, is fast approaching and local rider Bernard Sulzberger (V Australia) is hoping to make it a successful return to home roads when he lines up for the October 4 start.

Sulzberger, who won the 2009 edition of the race, has just finished riding in the Tour of China where he finished 27th overall and according to team manager Chris White the Tasmanian is really motivated for the race.

"Bernie started to show some pretty good form in China after his stint in the US and he’ll be right on for the big Tassie races," White said. "We have a team which will be very competitive in Tasmania. We’ll take the competition to a new level.

"We love the Tassie tour. It’s Australia’s best tour, with its fantastic terrain and countryside. But it can be brutal and this year’s course looks tough. I think Tassie is about to bear its ugly teeth."

Though the V Australia team has had significant success in previous years at the race with Sulzberger, and last year with Patrick Shaw (now Genesys), they'll have to find some way to overcome current NRS leaders Genesys, who boast the winner of every Australian stage race in 2011 so far.

Genesys, who have just finished a reconnisaince of the route for the upcoming Herald Sun Tour, go to the Tour of Tasmania without Shaw, though they will be able to rely on the services of NRS leader Nathan Haas, and Goulburn prologue winner Anthony Giacoppo.

Team manager Andrew Christie-Johnson said to Cyclingnews that the team would be taking it day-by-day in Tasmania, and would be tempering how deep Haas and Giacoppo go ahead of Herald Sun Tour.

"The Tour of Tasmania is important for us, but it's not as important as the Herald Sun Tour," said Christie-Johnson. "Haas will ride to win, but if things don't go well, he may go home early [and prepare for Herald Sun Tour], and that's the same with Anthony [Giacoppo]."

Having recently seen the course Christie-Johnson also added that the Tour was one of the most grueling he'd seen.

"There are five stages the Tour could blow apart on. Your Tour could effectively be over after the first stage [a 23.1km TTT up Mt Wellington] if you don't ride well. Stages two and three are also extremely solid and then there's the stage that goes up Gunns Plains [stage 7] which is really tough as well."

"Many of the bigger teams from the NRS will have one eye on the Herald Sun Tour and I think that will give some of the smaller teams a really good chance to make an impression in Tasmania."

The Tour of Tasmania runs from the 4-9 October, and is the ninth round on the NRS.

Tour of Tasmania squads

V Australia: Bernard Sulzberger, Aaron Kemps, Taylor Sheldon, Sean Sullivan, Johnnie Walker and Cameron Peterson, Chris Winn, Hayden Brooks

Genesys Wealth Advisers: Nathan Haas, Campbell Flakemore, Nathan Earle, Kane Walker, Jason Rigg, Tom Robinson, Anthony Giacoppo and Calvin Watson.

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Alex Hinds, Production Editor

Sydney, Australia

Follow @al_hinds

Alex Hinds is a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Sydney University. Growing up in the metropolitan area of the city he quickly became a bike junkie, dabbling in mountain and road riding. Alex raced on the road in his late teens, but with the time demands of work and university proving too much, decided not to further pursue full-time riding.

If he was going to be involved in cycling in another way the media seemed the next best bet and jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sydney office of Cyclingnews when an offer arose in early 2011.

Though the WorldTour is of course a huge point of focus throughout the year, Alex also takes a keen interest in the domestic racing scene with a view to helping foster the careers of the next generation of cycling.

When not writing for Cyclingnews Alex is a strong proponent of the awareness of cyclists on the road in Sydney having had a few close run-ins with city traffic in the past.