HORSHAM cyclist Mark O’Brien is confident he can repeat last week’s Cycling Australian National Road Series tour event victory when he lines up for the Santos North Western Tour at Narrabri, NSW, at the weekend.
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O’Brien claimed his second overall event win, defending his lead in the FKG Tour of Toowomba on Sunday.

The win was his third straight and his second in the series.

O’Brien said he was enjoying the Australian road series after returning from stints in Europe.

“The Australian tour is rock solid. There are really quality fields and there are young guys riding here who will tear it up on the world stage in the future.” he said.

While O’Brien is keen to return to Europe, the spiritual home of world road cycling, he was concentrating on delivering success for his Budget Forklifts team this season.

“I am stoked to have won three in a row. I don’t think I had won a tour overall since 2005,” he said.

“I have had a lot of luck, our team is really supporting me we have such a great blend of youth and experience.”

O’Brien said his Budget Forklifts team, including fellow Horsham cyclist Sam Witmitz, had bonded this season.

“If you are going to commit to a whole season you have to be able to get along. We are good mates and quite relaxed off the road,” he said.

O’Brien travelled to Narrabri yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s tour start.

He said he was keen to check out climbs on the tour which he could use to his advantage.

“From what I have heard it is predominantly flat, which does not suit me. I prefer the steep climbs where I can set a high tempo and ride the rest into the ground,” he said.

“There is no reason why myself or my team-mates could not win again.”

O’Brien said he would take a short break after this race, with the next leg of the national series to start in early August.

“With the way the tour is, you are basically riding for a month and then having a month off. So in that time I will have a quick break and then ramp up the training ahead of the next block of races,” he said.

“It is a big season, whether you are on the bike or in the car. There is plenty of travel involved.”

Wimmera cycling fans will be able to follow Budget Forklifts’ fortunes at the Tour of Toowomba on SBS cycling program Cycling Central, which airs on Sunday at 5pm.

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