Hucker to race Tour Down Under

BENDIGO's Robbie Hucker is in Drapac Professional Cycling's team to contest the Santos Tour Down Under in South Australia.

Hucker will make his UCI WorldTour debut when the eight-day classic starts on Sunday.

A back injury has forced Drapac team-mate Tom Palmer out of the tour.

Hucker will join forces with Bendigo-based team-mate Darren Lapthorne and the in-form Jonathan Cantwell, Will Clarke, Travis Meyer, Bernard Sulzberger, Wesley Sulzberger in the Tour.

The 23-year-old rode strongly in the team’s pre-season training camp in Bright and the Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Ballarat.

Hucker is a past national under-23 mountain bike champion in the cross-country discipline.

A year ago he stood on the side of the road as a spectator at the Santos Tour Down Under.

There, what struck him most were the crowds and the quality within the peloton.

“To be going back there racing is surreal.

“I’m looking to make the most of the opportunity and do the jersey proud.”

Hucker's first full season as a road cyclist in 2013 included podiums at Baw Baw, Battle on the Border and Tour of Tasmania.

He was 10th overall at the Tour of Japan, second on GC at the Tour of Tasmania to Bendigo clubmate Jack Haig and fourth in the gruelling Melbourne to Warrnambool.

Hucker paid tribute to the work done with coach Tim Decker in the past 15 months for raising his professionalism and dedication.

“Tim gets the best out of a lot of people," Hucker said of the former Bendigo-based cyclist who is now living and working in Adelaide.

"He’s got a lot of champion athletes and it’s a credit to him as to where I’m at.”

The Tour includes three women's classics.

Bendigo's Peta Mullens will be chasing victory in Sunday's criterium in Adelaide's CBD.

Racing on Monday will be the Barossa Road Race from Angaston, and Wednesday's criterium at Prospect.

The 875km men's Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday.

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide