BALLARAT cyclist Angus Lyons has received a surprise call-up to compete in the Sun Tour.
The 19-year-old will replace Bendigo star Jack Haig in the Australian Under-23 squad for the five-stage race running from February 4-8.
Lyons said he only received the invitation to compete in one of the biggest races of his career last Sunday, after it was revealed that Haig fractured his elbow in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
Haig took out the best young rider classification and finished third overall in the 2014 Sun Tour.
Needless to say, Lyons has big shoes to fill.
However, the time trial and climbing specialist expects to fill the role of worker for stars Robert Power and Harry Carpenter.
“I didn’t expect anyone to pull out, but Jack Haig had a crash and I expect I’ll be working for them,” he said.
“I’ve got the Oceania’s (Oceania Championships) a week after that, so I’ve been training pretty heavily.”
The race features World Tour team Orica-GreenEDGE, which will be led by last year’s champion Simon Clarke and Road Nationals silver medallist Caleb Ewan.
Several international teams will compete, including MTN-Qhubeka (South Africa), United Healthcare (US), Androni Giocattoli (Italy) and Condor JLT (Great Britain), as well as the Great Britain National Team.
Lyons is relishing the chance to test himself against seasoned professionals.
“Realistically, it’s almost bigger than the Road Nationals from my perspective,” he said.
“It will be good experience to ride against the bigger teams.”
The Tour will begin with a 2.1-kilometre time trial along the Yarra River in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Three mostly flat stages follow, before a riveting final stage on the Mornington Peninsula, including three climbs of the revered Arthurs Seat, three kilometres with an average gradient of eight per cent.
Lyons expects the race to be won and lost atop the climb.
“You start looking at bigger time gaps there,” he said.
“If you can put the gas down on the five, 10 minutes it takes to get to the top, then you can put some of the other guys in the box a bit.
“If you’ve got a 20-, 30-second gap over the top (on the second climb), you could get the win.”
Meanwhile, Pat Shaw has been listed in the Avanti Racing Team after an impressive performance in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.