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White predicts "aggressive" London-Surrey Classic

Aussies Stuart O'Grady and Simon Gerrans await the start in Melbourne.

Aussies Stuart O'Grady and Simon Gerrans await the start in Melbourne. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)

Predicting some good old-fashioned Australian-British rivalry, Cycling Australia's Professional Men's Road Coordinator, Matt White, is unperturbed by the inclusion of both an English and Great British team for this Sunday's London-Surrey Classic road race, the Olympic test event for the London 2012 Olympics.

"If I'd known a bit earlier I could have assembled a team from New South Wales and one from Queensland," White laughed. "We could have even got a West Australian team together. It was a tricky one by the Poms."

"Their objectives are quite simple, they want to win the race and I dare say they want to win with [Mark] Cavendish," White continued on a more serious note. "I'd dare say this is as much about psychological preparation and getting guys working together for the first time in their national jerseys as it is about the physical toughness of the race."

Australia takes the high quality team of Stuart O'Grady, Matt Goss, Heinrich Haussler, Michael Matthews and Leigh Howard to the event.

White told Cyclingnews that there was no one rider designated as leader.

"It's very hard to build a team around one guy with a team of five and the line up I've got – if any of them are in a small group heading towards the finish I'd be pretty confident of them getting the result," he explained.

Sunday will be the first time that Haussler represents Australia, the country of his birth having previously ridden for Germany, where he spent much of his It's also Howard's debut in a senior Australian team on the road.

White had between 15 and 20 riders in mind for the job however, some of his plans were scuttled by the Eneco Tour.

Sunday's Classic is the final chance to use the 2012 Olympic course under race conditions, with White tipping "very, very aggressive" race tactics over the 140 kilometres.

"It's not the most challenge circuit as far as the terrain goes but when you have the world's best riders over a very long distance and in teams of five it will be very, very hard to control on the flat course," he explained.

"One aspect that people forget is that without race radios and in a team of five – it totally changes the race. This weekend will be run like an Under 23 race."

 

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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.

 

Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.