The 2015 National Road Series (NRS) team standings are set to be decided at the final event on the calendar this Saturday at the one-day Grafton to Inverell with Avanti leading Charter-Mason Giant by a single point. Paddy Bevin has an unassailable lead in the individual standings but won’t be racing with Avanti as he is currently in Aspen for a Cannondale-Garmin team camp who he joins in 2016.
Avanti have been the top team in the NRS for the last four seasons running but have been in a neck-and-neck battle for top stop with CharterMason-Giant since the series started at the Tour de Perth in March. 2015 is the first season in which CharterMason-Giant have ridden with a Continental license as they look to become the premier domestic Australian team. CharterMason-Giant had been top of the standings prior to last weekend’s Melbourne to Warrnambool but Neil Van Der Ploeg’s fourth place for Avanti compared to Ben Hill’s eighth saw the New Zealand registered team take back the lead.
While the two teams battle it out for the overall honours, the third best of the 2015 series African Wildlife Safaris, will be looking to go out in style with a successful defence of Sean Lake’s title. The Melbourne-based Continental team will fold at the end of the season having been unsuccessful in the search for a new sponsor. The team will also be looking to ensure that German sprinter Michael Schweizer defends his second place overall on the standings.
The in-form Hill has been a regular winner in the NRS season and with the overall team honours on the line, there is further motivation for taking the win. Hill will face a tough challenge from the likes of van der Ploeg, Schweizer and 2009 winner Malcolm Rudolph who will be looking to put in a good ride and secure a contract for next season after departing Drapac’s ranks this season. Local rider and runner-up at the Tour of Tasmania Dylan Sunderland is also a name to watch and darkhorse for victory.
The women’s 2015 NRS is also set to conclude this weekend with the three-day Tour of the Goldfields stage race in Ballarat, Victoria. Ruth Corset is set to claim her second straight overall win in the NRS with her 16 point lead over Georgia Baker an impossible ask for the Tasmanian to make up. However Baker’s team, the High5 Dream Team, will take out the team prize in its debut season as it holds a 14 point advantage over Bicycle Superstore.
Strong performance from High5 Dream Team riders Rebecca Wiasak and Tessa Fabry could also see either of the duo move into third place on the overall standings with just six points separating third and ninth place. Last year’s runner up Jenelle Crooks returns from an overseas stint of racing and will be a rider to watch but it is defending champion Corset who looks like the rider to beat.
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