ONCE were warriors: The 1996 Tour de France with Pat Jonker.

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In 1996 Australian rider Pat Jonker completed the Tour de France in twelfth place, eighteen minutes and 58 seconds behind winner, Denmark’s Bjarne Riis. A little over four minutes to the good of Jonker in eleventh spot was his biggest idol, Spain legend Miguel Indurain. Two other Australian finished the race that year, current Orica GreenEDGE sports director Neil Stephens, who was a teammate of Jonkers with ONCE, finished  in 49th place and Scott Sunderland was back in position 101, more than two-and-a-half hours down on Riis. It was his greatest result in a career that spanned eleven years and included domestique roles on teams such as the aforementioned ONCE, US Postal and Rabobank. He represented Australia at two summer Olympics, completed the Tour de France on four occasions, finally retiring from the sport after winning the 2006 Tour Down Under on home soil.


Phelan looking to Europe - Off the saddle with Adam Phelan

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Wherever you can find a good coffee there is a fair chance you will find Adam Phelan. He is a sucker for one. The Drapac Professional Cycling team member grabs every opportunity possible to enjoy a ‘good brew’. “I have an obsession with coffee”, he says. That’s not unusual among the cycling fraternity and neither are crashes. On December five 2011 Phelan was involved in a training accident that could have had serious ramifications on not only his career in the sport, but more importantly, his life. Phelan was on a training camp in the Victorian high country with his teammates, when he hit a rock on the road.


Shaw fire thing - Off the saddle with Pat Shaw.

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Pat Shaw isn’t backward in coming forward, he says what he thinks. This doesn’t always go down that well with those around him but to the people who are close to the family man...that’s just Shawy. Shaw (25), had his biggest year on the bike in 2011 as a member of the winning Genesys Wealth Advisers team during the national road series. Along the way he took out the Tour of the Murray River as well as helping teammate Nathan Hass to wins in the tours of Gippsland, Geelong and Tasmania culminating with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.


"Tour of Tasmania is the one" - Haas keen to add the Apple Isle to his cv.

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Just two years ago, Canberra’ Nathan Haas was a battling mountain biker, studying socio legal philosophy at Sydney University and working part-time as a barman and in a cycle shop. Things have changed for the cheerful 22-year-old. He took a gamble in 2009 and entered the Caterpillar Underground Mining Tour of Tasmania, mainly as an adventure to “test his passion” for the sport of road cycling.

As they say in the classics, the rest is history. He won the six-day tour’s king of the mountains championship and last year cleaned up his 125 rivals in the toughest stage, the feared 78.5km trek from Ulverstone to Penguin, via Gunns Plains. This weekend, Haas will be back in Tasmania for what shapes as a career defining challenge: he will start favorite in the tortuous 208km Elgas Launceston to New Norfolk Classic on Sunday, then lead his seven Genesys Wealth Advisers team-mates in the Tour of Tasmania which begins in Hobart on Tuesday.

Porte's no fish out of water - Off the saddle with Richie Porte

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Tasmanian Richie Porte is currently on the ride of his life. The 26 year-old is competing in the world's biggest bike race the Tour de France. It is quite an accomplishment for the confident Porte who will ride for the Saxo Bank Sunguard team which just happens to include three-time winner and defending champion Spain's Alberto Contador.

One could excuse the man they call 'Fish' for continuely pinching himself as he pedals around the scenic roads of France. For only a matter of four years ago he was breathing cold air out on the quiet back-roads of Launceston in nothern Tasmania.Porte would spend many hours on narrow and lonesome roads during training.



Off the saddle with Wes Sulzberger.

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IN 2004 Aussie Wes Sulzberger believed his dream of riding professionally in Europe was taking shape. Sulzberger, 24, had been riding for the Tasmanian Institute of Sport under the guidance of Paul Brosnan and had won a stage of the Tour of Canberra where he valiantly rode solo off the front of the group for 120 kilometres. In the old Tattersall's Cup Series - one day races held in Victoria and Tasmania - he had also notched up high placings that provided beyond any doubt the youngster from Flowery Gully just north of Launceston was going places. And fast.