Sugden's title defence hits the skids

ORANGE Cycle Club’s Aiden Sugden won’t have the chance to defend his 2012 Skoda Christmas Cup title tomorrow due to injury.

Sugden is nursing a shoulder problem, and is unable to ride in the annual event, held at Forest Reefs’ Tallwood Circuit.

Despite missing the rise, Sugden said competitors could expect a tough a ride, on a tough track.

“The Orange riders are very familiar with it and the conditions, but for out of towners it could be a bit rougher than other races,” he said.

“I’m not sure of any big names from other towns, but the race will be high quality.”

Approximately 80 riders from Orange, Bathurst, Dubbo, Mudgee and Cootamundra will compete in the 54 kilometre handicap race on Saturday.

Sugden couldn’t hide his disappointment at being unable to race, but said he expects Orange’s other riders to perform well.

“Obviously being a handicap race anyone can win it,” he said.

“But I’d expect guys like Dan Webb, Craig Healey, Mason Manwaring and Charlie Gascoyne to do very well this weekend.”

The $2450 purse is shared over several categories and OCC president Steve Martin said the prospect of a substantial cash incentive had definitely attracted more competitors.

“At the moment we have 40 people locked in online,” he said.

“But with the cash prize being higher we’re expecting at least 80 riders to show up. I know the prize is the main drawcard in the other clubs’ advertising campaigns.”

Martin said losing Sugden from the field was disappointing, but the amount of other big name riders competing is encouraging.

“It is a shame about Aiden’s shoulder, but there will still be plenty of A grade riders racing,” he said.

“Christopher Couper and Adam Mitchell from Dubbo, along with Jeremy Ryan from Cootamundra all be there, so we’re expecting a big race.”

The 2013 Skoda Christmas Cup is scheduled for a 1pm sign-on, with the junior division race starting at 1.30pm and the opens at 2.30pm.

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