Cycling: Aussies to continue winning cycle

Cycling: Aussies to continue winning cycle

Such is the strength of the field in tonight's OCBC Cycle Singapore Professional Criterium that 12-time Tour de France stage winner Robbie McEwen rattled off a list of favourites on thursday.

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy was an obvious pick among the "good mix of breakaway artists and sprinters", the Cycle Asia ambassador said.

But don't be surprised if an Australian rider crosses the finishing line first at the F1 Pit Building.

After all, four of the five past winners have been from Down Under, with unfancied Italian Omar Bertazzo pipping Australians Cameron Meyer and Dean Windsor for the win in 2011.

Simon Clarke pipped Briton Clancy for victory last year, but is not back this year to defend his title. OCBC Team Singapore's Mitchell Mulhern thinks the dominance of Australian riders is down to their mastery of Singapore's hot and humid weather.

"Brisbane is pretty humid, but this brings humidity to another level," said the 23-year-old Australian at the event's press conference at the Conrad Centennial Singapore on thursday.

"All the Aussies and the Kiwis will be all right here, but the Europeans coming in will have a big challenge coping with the heat because they will be just coming in from the winter, and most of them would arrive today.

STRUGGLE

"I think they will really struggle," added the 1.89m-tall rider, who will compete for the OCBC team for the first time after helping Australia retain their team pursuit title at the World Track Cycling Championships in Colombia last month.

Mulhern reckons he will do well tonight in the sixth edition of the marquee cycling event here.

He said: "This being a criterium, having a lot of speed from the track will give me an advantage over the rest who are coming up in their road phase.

"Coming off the track, I have done a lot of road training to get up to the level and now I feel that I am quite fit and still holding the speed that I had from the track. It should be exciting tomorrow."

He will have the company of teammates Ho Jun Rong, Rico Rogers and Cameron Bayly in the OCBC team, one of the 16 teams in the competition.

While Orica-GreenEdge riders have won the elite criterium for the past two editions, the team may find it tough to score a hat-trick of wins, with Lithuanian rider Aidis Kruopis their only representative.

McEwen added: "He (Kruopis) is a great sprinter - he won the Sprints (Classification) jersey in the Tour de Langkawi, but being alone will make him vulnerable and he won't be able to take control of the race."


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