Mountain bikers will let their legs do the talking!
Big tours always seem to be at the mercy of good climbers and exceptional time trialists, and if this is the case, the guys from Team TORQ/Bicycle Superstores (currently 3rd in the NRS Teams Classification) will certainly be in with a chance when the Tour of Toowoomba starts on Thursday.
The TORQ/BSS team was formed at the beginning of the year with the goal of racing the NRS events, having already had a long and successful association with mountain biking.
It wasn’t surprising that many of the MTB team members were keen to compete in road events, especially spurred on by the exploits of riders such as 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans.
“Setting up the team was a natural extension to our existing team” explained Genevieve Clark from Torq Australia.
“Normally we have a good mix of riders from primarily mountain bikers right through to TT specialists, and a nice balance between the young guys and some of our more seasoned riders.
Unfortunately our original lineup has had to change slightly in the last month as Robbie Hucker, our team leader, crashed during a race and broke his elbow in two places, and Jack Haig has headed overseas to race the North American MTB World Cups.
However, we still have some real depth to the team, and there are riders who are ready to step up.
At this stage, the team for the Tour of Toowoomba will be Michael Troy, Brenton Jones, James Rix, Mark Fenner, Damian Mason and Scott Butler.”
With Robbie Hucker out of the line-up, the team goals have needed to changed a little, but as Genieve Clark confirms, TORQ/BSS really want to maintain their overall standing in the NRS competition.
“To this end, the guys will continue to ride aggressively and aim to be in the breaks and to take some stage wins”.
Genevieve also reports that morale in the TORQ/BSS camp is high.
“It will be the first tour these six riders have raced together as a team, and being their first big tour of the season they’re pretty pumped. We will be up there to support the guys round the clock, so for them, knowing they have everything they need on hand, helps them go into the race a little less stressed.
This week also marks a year on since Brenton Jones crashed out of last year’s Tour of Toowoomba, when the young rider crashed heavily at the back of the peleton as it steadily moved along the Oakey to Kulpi Road.
Nine riders came down in the carnage, and Jones was airlifted to Brisbane’s PA Hospital via the CareFlight helicopter with a suspected, serious head injury.
According to Genevieve, the TORQ/BSS squad has been training hard with the NRS calendar on its radar all year, and the Tour of Toowoomba to be rapidly being followed by the Santos North West Tour starting three days later.
“All the boys have been getting plenty of training and racing under their belt, whether it is local club races or the international mountain bike stage race, the Cape Epic in South Africa”.
This year’s Tour of Toowoomba has been exended to include a Team Time Trial, and this has played right into the hands (and legs) of TORQ/BSS.
“With three current TT champs in the lineup, the team TT will definitely be a strength, but none of our climbers can be dismissed either” Genevieve Clark added.
“Now Robbie Hucker is sidelined, Michael Troy will be on the lookout for any moves. He’s an opportunist too and really backs himself. The course will really suit his climbing. He’s in great form after taking 3rd at the NSW Hill Climb Challenge and strong riding at Blayney to Bathurst and All Spokes Festival in NSW.
Meanwhile, Brenton Jones has posted some really solid results this year. Since his crash last year he has taken his recovery very seriously and has stepped it up a notch from where he was this time last year.
“With the mix of profiles and our mix of riders in this year’s Tour of Toowoomba, there is something to suit everybody. The hill top finish on stage 2 is perfect for Michael Troy, while the experience of Mark Fenner, Scott Butler and Damian Mason will really focus our tactics on the road.
Our guys have raced together a lot in TT and crits where this familiarity and strategy play as much a part as form does.
So realistically a good result in the team time trial on stage three and having Mark, James and Damian both from the same club with Michael also a former member of Nowra Velo, plus Scott’s track pedigree they should be well drilled at racing together in formation”.
And who does Genevieve Clark see as the toughest opposition for TORG/BSS?
“The Opposition looks certainly to come from the direction of Genesys Wealth Advisers and Budget Forklifts, with Genesys coming back into the country from racing in Asia, and Budget already having the lead in the teams classification from round one at the Mersey Valley tour.
But you can never count out any of the other teams.
After seeing the success of Hass and Von Hoff last year (with Von Hoff being a formerTorq Team Mountain Bike rider), I think that everyone on every team has looked at picking up their game for season 2012”
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