All well laid battle plans rely on the element of surprise in order to catch the enemy off guard.  Within this form guide we look at some of the favoured riders which may remove that cloak of invincibility and create some more opportunities on the road.  The addition of the rain and cold will make this a true battle of attrition.

The full start lists can be found within the race manifest. There will be NO on the day entries for riders at the West Head Condottieri. No taking my friends spot, no taking a riders spot who hasn’t turned up. This is a NSW Open and therefore all riders must be pre entered.

The Elite race like any NSW Open is brimming with talent and options amongst the riders within. The Elite race has the added dimension of riders working for others within their team which can add increased drama when a break goes up the road and riders look for assistance in pulling it back. There are probably two riders who stand out amongst the line up.

Marcus Culey – St George Conti

Marcus is a rider who has continued to perform on the West Head course and we know that this distance and finish line compared to the Wall suits him. A danger to the field if and when he goes up the road. Comes in with Chris Froome like favoritism into the event.

Jesse Coyle – Mobius Future Racing

Fresh from winning the Elite Sydney Road Title at Penrith last weekend, Jesse has shown plenty of form in recent weeks. His finish at the Grafton also puts a spotlight on him after he worked to bring back the breakaway bunches before having the legs to go in the final break himself. A danger man who would be a popular winner.

The outsiders? Perhaps Luke Cridland (St George CC) to back up from last month and Chris Miller (Nero Racing) would love us to mention him so he can put it on his VLOG.

The Masters Race has two groups and the fields are certainly very strong, however it would be fair to say that the Group 1 bunch is overall a stronger field and will be an extremely tough race to win. The form guide would suggest any number of riders will take this victory. Looking at the A Masters we highlight and target the following riders:

Nathan Bonarius – Turbo Studio

While many may consider this course to be too lumpy for Nathan, I think he has shown as he did at Blaney to Bathurst that when required, he can get over the climbs. He has the legs and will be strong come the finish line if it is a bunch kick.

Anthony Dimitrovski – Parramatta

While he may not be on many radars and may not have many recent victories, we think he could be a challenger. Consider this inclusion like adding the famed Pippo Pozzato into your Milan San Remo contenders. He is looking lighter on the bike as of late and may throw up some warning shots into the race.

Outsiders? I am going to go with two riders who are happy to go in a break away and are smart enough to pick the one that will stick – Brent Goddard (Harlequin) and Peter O’Connor (Easts) plenty of knowledge within those two and they can certainly follow a wheel.

Within Group 2 of the A Masters, the danger men would be:

Tom Alexander – Manly Warringah

Tom is a rider that has proven his strength at the end of a race with his performance at last years Wall. He can climb and has a decent kick on him as well. Tends to ride defensively, which may or may not work in this race. Of course being one of the few guys still sporting a beard like it was 2015, Tom is fairly easily to spot in the peloton.

Brendon Nairn – St George

With the inclusion of the A Club and A Masters, we had a number of younger riders enter into this field and along with Tom, Brendon Nairn is a danger. He will be active at the front of the race and if he can get some riders to work with him, may find himself attempting to win against a reduced field. Will attacking on the first lap really work with a race of this length and field of this depth?

Outsiders: Andrew Duggan (SUVelo) is always under rated but he hasn’t missed this form guide, watch him go in a late move, along with Nick D’Ambrosio of Park Life.

The step down into B Grade is certainly more of a ramp than a step at this event, with a number of riders certainly at the ceiling of B Grade which may cause some carnage on race day over the multiple laps. We may see reduced fields come towards the finish because there are plenty of riders who will be putting the hurt on over the climbs.

Paul Curjak – SUVelo

A rider that has shown plenty of form in recent times around Heffron Park and at West Head. Likely to cause trouble as he certainly knows when to pick his moments to show his cards.

Andrew O’Neill – MWCC

Has shown that he has the legs to set the pace and still finish with a strong kick, while he doesn’t have a lot of racing experience, he certainly has the legs and strength to be a real danger on race day.

Outsiders? Numerous options for MWCC within this bunch, will be interesting how they work that and whether it works to their advantage or other riders can let them do all the work.

B Grade Group 2

This grade has 4 females in it and out of that it will be Georgia Whitehouse that will have the weight of expectation on her. Can she get the victory without the support of her NSWIS -SUVelo teammates this month? Will they get her name right if she makes it onto the winners list?

The next rider who stands out on the list is Julian Woods of Sydney CC. Not sure why, but like Mr Burns, I feel like you should remember that name.

Outsiders? Alex Dircks of Dulwich Hill, seems to get a few wins, disappear till everyone has forgotten about him, only to reappear again with a victory. The guy always seems to happy, so keep an eye on him.

C Grade Group 1

While we shouldn’t be ensuring that every Manly rider is marked out of existance, I think that with a heavy MWCC field in this group 1, that it is only fair that they make up the bulk of contenders.

Matthew Robinson – Has been showing continuous improvement, just needs to deliver on race day because he certainly has the strength to get him over the line or will he simply be another Tejay Van Garderen?

Paul Mower – May have the hopes of Northern Sydney riding on his shoulders as they hope to get their jersey on the podium come Sunday.

Outsiders? Peter Robinson of Harlequin. While he may not get the win, he knows how to find a spot on the podium.

C Grade Group 2

I will be the first to admit that the form guide on this group is starting to get a little hazy. Throw a few darts out with Richard Lewis of Caravello and Declan Jones Randwick Botany. A bit like when you only have a few points to left in your Velogames team picks and you are trying to pick a domestique, go with a name that sounds possibly familiar.

Outsiders? Essentially anyone pinning on a number.

The D Grade always shows up some bolter who should have been in A Elite rather than D Grade and they do a great job of smashing the field apart at the roll out. Who will it be this month? Who will ruin the spirit of competition and ensure that some first timer never wants to pin on a number again? Identify yourself.

See you all on Sunday, whether it is raining or not.