Lapthorne makes his mark

Cyclist gears up for Tour Down Under

BENDIGO cyclist Darren Lapthorne says he still has a point to prove in the sport.

Lapthorne has been in training for Sunday’s Santos Tour Down Under for the past two months.

He hopes he and his team, Drapac Professional Cycling, can have a breakthrough performance in the 815.5km race.

“My personal expectations would be to finish in the top five in the general classification, but as a team we will be racing quite aggressively like we did at the Road National Championships on the weekend,” Lapthorne said.  

“Hopefully, a break away sticks or we have the opportunity to go for a stage win.

“It is a quality field; it is a world tour race, so any result we get in Adelaide will be a massive bonus.”

Lapthorne and team Drapac will be up against some of the best riders in the world in Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and Simon Gerrans.

He said he approached the Tour Down Under like any other bike race.

“You can’t think about the competitors to much, you just have to think about your own form and your own race,” Lapthorne said.  

“I always try and do my best; it doesn’t matter if I am racing against Cadel Evans or someone else.”

Lapthorne finished sixth at the National Championships, which were held in Buninyong, near Ballarat.  

The 30-year-old said there was a renewed energy in the team after it was announced the team had reached the Professional Continental status.  

“It is a big step up for our team,” he said.

“Theoretically, we could get a wildcard invite to any race in the world and that includes the grand tours like the Tour de France or the Tour of Italy.

“But that is not what we are aiming for this year.

“Our biggest races this year will be the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California in a couple of months.”

Lapthorne said he was gearing up for an action-packed 2014.

“The Tour Down Under is my biggest goal, but Drapac, our sponsor, is relocating to the US, so the races we do in America will be important,” he said.  

“Towards the end of the year will be doing the Tour of Utah and the Tour of Colorado.”

Lapthorne said he wouldn’t be able to travel and do what he loves without the support from his wife Jessica and nine-month-old daughter Florence.

“I still love cycling and I still think I have something to prove on the bike,” he said.

“I feel very fortunate to ride my bike for a living.

“It is a great lifestyle and I couldn’t do it if my family didn’t support me because it is a tough sport.” 

The Tour Down Under in Adelaide runs from January 19 to 26.

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