By Jarrod Whittaker
DROUIN cyclist Cyrus Monk believes the experience he has gained during the past two years will allow him to make his mark when the Tour of Gippsland kicks off in Traralgon on Wednesday.
Monk made his National Road Series debut in the 2014 tour and is hoping for a better showing at this year’s event.
“That was my debut race and I was riding for the composite team at the time and completing year 12,” the 19 year-old said.
“I was just hoping to complete the tour (in 2014), whereas this year I’m hoping to get a few stage results or high GC (general classification) position.” Last year the tour went on hiatus, denying Monk an opportunity to return to the event where his NRS career began.
This year Monk is riding for the Pat’s Veg Cycling team, which provides training and development to outstanding youth cyclists.
“Since last time, I’ve raced I’ve got quite a few NRS tours under my belt and recently this winter I had a month of racing in Belgium and I’ve come back and had two NRS tours since then,” he said.
“Hopefully that will leave me in good form coming into this tour.”
The variety of terrain in this year’s tour means there will be opportunities for sprinters and climbers to make their mark.
Monk, who described himself as an “allrounder”, said he hoped to capitalise on the different terrain.
“It’s certainly a race that I like and it’s suited to me because of the nature of the terrain in the race,” he said.
“It makes for hard and aggressive racing because the climbs tend to be not overly long, but still are a significant factor. It allows for small group finishes which suits me best for getting stage wins, so that will be the target at this year’s tour.”
Monk said he was looking forward to the fourth stage of the tour, where riders will follow a 138 kilometre course with plenty of climbing and few straights.
He said he was looking forward to the latter part of the stage, when the pelaton would climb Mount Misery twice. Monk encouraged the community to support the race.
“I’ve encouraged locals definitely to come have a look at whichever stage is closest to them,” he said.
“The criterium is good for them because you see the racers come by so often so that’s really lucky for Traralgon residents to have two (criterium) stages.”