After an eight-week hiatus, the Subaru National Road Series reignites tomorrow when the Tour of Murray River begins in Mildura.
The dual Tour will feature 205 male and female cyclists set to race along the iconic Murray River which straddles the Victorian and New South Wales’ border. The event opens the second half of the season, with the warm and flat region recognised as a prime location for riders to return to racing.
Many riders will be eager to hit the ground running after supporting their state series or spending time overseas like Western Australia’s team Bianchi DCM Arbitrage, Queensland’s Budget Forklifts, Charter Mason and Avanti Racing who competed in Belgium, America, Canada and throughout Asia respectively.
Melbourne’s Patrick Lane returns to the national scene after six years racing abroad including stints with the Jayco AIS and Azerbaijan’s Baku Cycling Project.
“I haven’t raced the NRS for a few years and obviously the level is pretty high,” said Lane, who has joined African Wildlife Safaris for the remainder of 2014. “A few of the guys on the team have only been competing in the NRS for a year and have plenty of talent but they’re a bit raw. With a bit more experience – especially with a race like [Tour of] Murray where positioning is so important – they can show everyone how good they are.
“I think we can surprise a few guys,” said Lane who was third in the race for ‘fastest time’ at the Melbourne to Ballarat over the weekend. Lane will line up alongside fellow Victorian’s James Mowatt, Shaun O’Callaghan, Darcy Woolley, Daniel Nelson, Tyler Spurrell, Jarryd Jones and Kyle Thompson.
Subaru National Road Series leader Joe Cooper (Avanti Racing) won’t take part in the series’ fifth event, as he continues to recover from a fractured pelvis sustained at the Tour of Toowoomba.
Beginning in Mildura on Tuesday July 29, the men’s race will then continue through to Robinvale, Swan Hill, Quambatook, Kerang, Cohuna and Echuca before continuing on to Nathalia and Cobram and concluding in Yarrawonga on Sunday, August 3.
Women’s Tour of the Murray River preview. August 1 – 3.
Kerang’s Tessa Fabry (Jayco/Apollo/John West/VIS) will headline a 71-strong women’s field including national time trial champion Felicity Wardlaw (Bicycle Superstore).
Having only been involved in the sport competitively for 12 months, Fabry has come a long way since she made her debut at the Tour of the Murray in 2013.
“About this time last year I was picked up by the Breeze development team and I raced the second half of the NRS with them. I placed third in the final stage at the Tour of the Goldfields at the end of the year and that’s where the VIS got to know me.”
In November last year, Fabry made it through to the second round of the infamous AIS selection camp and from there, was picked up by the Victorian Institute of Sport for 2014.
“I’ve learned heaps from [VIS head coach] Donna [Rae-Szalinski]. I hadn’t been formally coached before so working with her has made a huge difference with my training and racing, it's given me more direction and purpose with everything I do around the bike.”
Fabry, who is currently third overall in the series following victory at the Battle on the Border in May, will look to take advantage of series leader Ruth Corset (Holden Women’s Cycling) and second placed Lizzie Williams’ (Specialized Securitor) absence from the Tour.
“I think the race for the overall NRS could be really open by the end of the year,” said Fabry who, like Williams, will spend time racing overseas next month.
Although this year's Tour won’t pass through Fabry’s hometown of Kerang, she will have plenty of family on the sidelines in Echuca when the three day event gets underway on Friday, August 1.