Drapac Professional Cycling wants to re‐claim the title of Australia’s best domestic cycling team and it has assembled a star‐studded team to do just that.
Drapac will kick off its SCODY Cup campaign with the opening leg of the series, the Lakes Oil Tour of Gippsland, which starts in less than a fortnight. The team is overflowing with talent and will be spearheaded by former national road champion Darren Lapthorne and comeback cyclist William Walker.
Walker was one of the country’s brightest young prospects, with his list of achievements including an Australian road title in 2006 and a Melbourne to Warrnambool triumph and overall Scody Cup victory in 2004 – the latter pair at the ripe age of 18. He progressed to an international career but it was cruelly cut short due to two heart disorders, forcing him to retire in 2009.
After a stint as the Malaysian national coach and a development role with GreenEDGE, Walker is back on the bike, with Drapac team manager Jonathan Breekveldt saying the 26‐year‐old had the all clear from specialists and doctors. “He’s still in his comeback but he’s still a world‐class bike rider and we expect him to go fairly well,”he said.
“Our main priority is to keep him healthy and how that translates onto the road, I’m not sure but that doesn’t matter. “The main priority is his health.”
Drapac is coming off a racing schedule in Asia and Europe.
“For us, our priority is still Asia but there’s a break in the program the next few months so we’re happy to focus on the SCODY Cup and re‐assert ourselves back in Australia as the number one team,”
Breekveldt said. He said that Drapac was naturally aiming to win the Tour of Gippsland. “The team is excited to be back in Australia and wants to put on a good show,” he said.
“But it will take a few days for the boys to get going because it’s a different style of racing to what we were exposed to in Asia and Europe.”
There were no surprises when Breekveldt was asked to nominate who would be challenging Drapac for overall team honours.
“Genesys, based on their results and previous years, has been the strongest team on domestic scene and they’re going to be tough,” he said.
“Budget Forklifts has really taken a step forward this year too. “The (SCODY Cup) fields are stronger this year and they’re a bit more balanced.
“There’s probably going to be four or five teams fighting for it.”
Joining Lapthorne and Walker in the Drapac team is 2010 Melbourne to Warrnambool winner Rhys Pollock, the versatile Lachlan Norris and sprinters Stuart Shaw, Malcolm Rudolph and Peter Thompson.
“We expect Darren to be in pretty good form and this one we’ve targeted with him,” Breekveldt said.
The Tour of Gippsland promises an exciting opening day as fishing village San Remo and the worldfamous Phillip Island Grand Prix motorcycle racing circuit both make their debut as stage hosts.
After the two new stages on Wednesday, August 1, the tour will make its way through places such as Moe, Morwell, Yinnar, Sale, Maffra, Dargo, Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance and Metung.
It culminates on Sunday, August 5 with a criterium at Paynesville, taking in the Gippsland Lakes.
The nine‐stage event is supported by Tourism Victoria and four municipal councils ‐ Bass Coast, Latrobe City, Wellington and East Gippsland.
It is the opening chapter of the $130,000 SCODY Cup, which also features the inaugural Budget Forklifts Tour of the Great South Coast (August 15‐19), the Tour of the Murray River
(September 2‐9) and the Caterpillar Underground Mining Tour of Tasmania (October 7).
All of the four races are part of Cycling Australia’s Subaru National Road Series.