As an Aussie, it’s been great to see so many riders from Down Under come to Britain to race the series for British teams. Two such riders are Rico Rogers and Bernie Sulzberger …
Blog Number 1: On the road with the Halfords Tour Series
While circuit racing has a rich history in Britain, it’s also very popular in Australia and New Zealand. At the start of the year, Australia has the Bay Crits and because the riders from the other side of the world are very handy in such events, it’s no surprise we have seen them come here and be successful.
Riders like Zak Demspter, Darren Lapthorne and Jack Bauer for example have all done well in the Halfords Tour Series.
Not all riders make a success of it however and at the start of the year when the new signings are announced, there is naturally this question mark on how the new riders will fare when the racing starts in the town centres. They all have some great results next to their name and so on paper appear to be a big threat to the established riders but it’s when the siren sounds and the red mist descends that we see really what these riders are made of.
Two such are riders are New Zealander Rico Rogers and Aussie Bernie Sulzberger. Both have slotted in very well and in Kirkcaldy, both were in the top three and in Durham, Sulzerberger was adding to his sprint points tally finishing second in all of them.
Rico Rogers was signed by Node 4 in the winter to give them some sprint firepower and while Durham was not his thing, he showed in Kirkcaldy that in a bunch kick, he’s a dangerous rider to give any room.
“It was good and it was fast” Rico explained when asked about Kirkcaldy where he was third. “It was twisty and bumpy and almost like a mini classic, it was nice. It was aggressive and in your face especially so for me having not experienced anything like that for a while.”
“I don’t think any of these races are going to be easy” Rico says “but I like the racing. I’d prefer them to be more controlled for a bunch kick and I think I’d come into my own when it’s just a flat out bunch kick, but this is the bread and butter here and I know I can do this fine.”
“All I concentrate on is being as fast and strong as I can be and I found that it falls into place after that. It’s fast here but no faster than anywhere else in the world.”
Away from the racing though the pace of his life is a little steadier and the Halfords Tour Series has given Rico and his wife the opportunity to do some sight seeing in the places the race visits.
“We love it” Rico says. “We went to the haunted pub last night as well as the Cathedral and the Castle; it such a scenic place”. He did add that we do live life under a rain coat however….
Bernie Sulzberger (above) (Raleigh-GAC) meanwhile started the year in Australia on fire, performing great in the Bay Crits, then the Aussie champs and finally the Tour Down Under. So far in Britain, he’s waiting for the first big win but that should come as he’s been very impressive in a lot of races so far.
Talking to Bernie who was second in the sprints comp in Durham and is now second overall, he says of that race, “that was tough”.
He confirmed that he hadn’t done anything like that in Australia saying “it was the cobbles. The climb was hard enough but when it’s wet and cobbled, it makes it very hard.”
Recalling his second place in Kirkcaldy this week, he says “That was a tight circuit and the ones back home are like that so I don’t mind them. It was good for me. It was good to be up there and get second but to get a win, that would be good!”
Bernie says after having done a few of the crits in Britain, that they’re pretty similar to the Bay Crits in Australia. “The competition here is pretty fierce and it’s going to be a good series. My confidence is good and I’m second in the sprint comp now. The other boys are going well so we’re looking forward to the next round.”
So look out for those names at the top of the result sheet during the next nine rounds of the Halfords Tour Series as both riders have proved already that they have the firepower to compete with the top British riders and yet another international victory to go with the ones by Dempster, Bauer, Alex Blain, Lapthorne, Dean Windsor and so on is on the cards …