Slip-up costs Tamworth ace a spot in Tour Down Under

SAM Spokes was hoping to ride in this week’s Tour Down Under but might have to settle for the Sun Tour instead.

The 21-year-old Tamworth rider was in the running for a berth in the Tour Down Under that starts today but would have had to get a podium spot at the recent Australian Road Championships to force his way onto the professional team’s roster for this week’s big Tour.

“I finished fifth in the time trial but would have had to podium in the road race to get a start,” he said.

“I road a pretty ordinary race too – rode silly. 

“So that wasn’t a good result and a bit disappointing.

“But I am a good chance of riding the Sun Tour in the Australian under 23 team. 

“It should be named soon.”

He hopes to head down in early February for that race  starting February 5 then return to Tamworth before flying out for Italy to link with his European professional team in Italy.

In the meantime he’ll continue to race in the Tamworth Cycling Club criteriums.

He won last Sunday’s A-B grade race.

“It was a good race, very fast,” he said.

“It was good fun. 

“We had about nine A graders there. 

“Everyone is motivated at the moment – everyone is training and riding well. 

“There’s always someone for me to ride with (on his training rides).

The Tamworth Cycling Club’s criterium racing continues at Goddard Lane this Sunday morning (8am).

 Giovanni Visconti has joined Thomas Voeckler as big-name international casualties of this year’s Tour Down Under.

Visconti crashed out of Sunday night’s curtain-raiser street race in Adelaide and the Movistar rider had surgery overnight to repair a compound break in his right leg.

The three-time Italian road champion will be in hospital for three or four days.

Marcel Kittel won Sunday night’s curtainraiser ahead of fellow German sprint ace Andre Greipel and rising Australian star Caleb Ewan impressed with his third place.

Dutch rider Loes Gunnewijk won the opening race of the Santos Cup and headed an Orica-AIS trifecta, with Melissa Hoskins second and Annette Edmondson third.

The  Tour Down Under will go ahead as planned after the containment of a Barossa Valley bushfire.

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