Tamworth rider fine-tuned for shot at Tour

SAM Spokes flies to Melbourne tomorrow to ramp up his start to a huge cycling year with a ride in the Herald Sun Tour with an Australian Under 23 team.

The 21-year-old Tamworth cyclist was at it again yesterday, winning the Tamworth Cycling Club’s A Grade criterium at Goddard Lane from Mitch Carrington and Fraser Ashford.

It was another fast race and followed a busy morning for Spokes, who has been training for his return to his European team in Italy.

He had started his day with an hour of hill work up the Tamworth Lookout before the criterium racing.

After arriving in Melbourne tomorrow, he then starts the five-stage Herald Sun Tour on Wednesday with a time trial in the city.

Then follows a Geelong to Ballarat stage, Ballarat to Bendigo and a Bendigo to Melbourne leg.

The fifth and final stage is the toughest, with a corkscrew climb up Arthur’s Seat.

“It’s a tough finish to the race,” said Alan Spokes, Sam’s father.

“Then they (Australian selectors) want Sam to race with them during the year when he can, when the national teams are racing. 

“They also want him to train at altitude with them in training for the World Championships in Spain in August.”

Yesterday, his A Grade criterium was quick.

Brendan Hallford, one of the most improved riders in the Tamworth Cycling Club ranks, can attest to that.

Hallford who has progressed from the C Grade ranks to A grade in 12 months was coming off a “yahoo” third placing in A Grade the previous week.

He had copped plenty of teasing about his belated “yahoo” yell on finishing third during the week.

There was no laughing matter when the A grade race was some 18 minutes old.

“I got popped,” Hallford admitted as some of his clubmates gathered for a coffee at The Shack.

“It was hard. But it’s been good.

“I’ve had a couple of hard weeks’ training with Sam too.”

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