Jonathon Cantwell.
Jonathon Cantwell.

Cantwell poised for Tyalgum win

GOLD Coast cyclist Jonathan Cantwell will ride into town a hot favourite for this morning’s prestigious Tyalgum Cup.

A three-time champion, Cantwell’s preparation for a record fourth title in Tyalgum has been exemplary.

Crowned 2011 Australian criterium champion on January 6, he carried his career-best form into the recent Tour Down Under.

Despite being a noted short-course specialist and tackling rides more than double the distance of his national crown (44km), Cantwell maintained pace with the lead pack throughout the gruelling event, using his searing sprint finishes to cross the 124km fourth stage in 11th place and the 90km sixth stage in 10th.

And having conquered the 758km Tour, today’s 45km cycle through Tyalgum should shape as a rather leisurely ride for one of Australia’s elite cyclists.

Nevertheless, still eager to impress potential sponsors after the collapse of the Pegasus – with whom he was contracted for 2011 – Cantwell, 29, will not only want to win this morning’s Cup, but do so convincingly.

With cyclists split between Tyalgum and the Australian Senior Track Championships in Sydney, his main challengers in the small field of elite men are likely to be Lifecycle Brisbane clubmate Jonathan Stockwell and Tweed local Brendan Brookes.

However, event organiser and Murwillumbah Cycle Club president Dennis Burger believes it’s near impossible to back against the man who won the Australian title this month at a distance only one kilometre shy of today’s course.

“Jonathan’s won here three times, is the current Australian criterium champ and only last week was 10th over the line in the final sprint of the Tour Down Under,” Burger said. “He has to start as favourite, doesn’t he?”

Aside from a puncture or fall, one element that might level the playing field a little is the track change introduced last year.

Absent in 2010, Cantwell is yet to attack the new 10km hill climb that awaits riders as they set off.

“That hill at the start is a real killer,” Burger said.

“By the time they’re flying back down the hill through town, we’ll be able to see if anyone got a little frisky and challenged Jonathan through the climb.”

More than 100 riders from Brisbane to Byron Bay are expected to contest the Cup, with five categories catering for all levels.

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