The 2017 National Road Series (NRS) kicks off this weekend with the Tour of East Gippsland, with Victoria’s Kate Perry keen to kick-start her assault on the 2017 season at a home tour.

It has been a whirlwind opening two seasons for Perry, who showed her potential early in 2016 by taking the Subaru leader’s jersey following her maiden Tour win at the the Mersey Valley Tour.

“I had a great year last year in the NRS,” said Perry, who finished fifth overall in the individual rankings. “Whilst I was happy to finish in the top five rankings I definitely walked away with a lot to work on, so this year I will be working on my own personal goals and hopefully these will transfer into another consistent year in the NRS.”

It is an early start to the year for the women’s peloton, with the Tour of East Gippsland one of five new events for women to be introduced to the Subaru NRS calendar which has seen the 2017 season expand to ten events and 25 days of racing.

“Whilst it is probably a little earlier than I would have liked; coming off the back of a huge January, it is great to see so many additional races to the 2017 calendar,” explained Perry.

“But the boost of additional races into the 2017 can only really be seen as a plus for both the men and women.

“I am particularly excited to see the addition of the Melbourne to Warrnambool and Tour of Margaret River, so am hoping to tailor my season towards the end of the calendar year.

“Whilst the NRS still has a long way to come, this is definitely a step in the right direction, and I am excited to see it only grow from here.”

Perry also believes that the increased number of racings days will make for a more challenging and unpredictable season.

“With an increased number of races on the calendar, I think this will provide some very exciting racing and open the series right up to a number of potential winners,” Perry said.

“We are fortunate this year with Specialized Women’s Racing, that we have a full roster, which means as riders we have greater flexibility in which races we would like to work towards. This only makes juggling full time work and study commitments and training that little bit easier,” said Perry who juggles racing with coaching, including in the Cycling Australia Let’s Ride program.

Perry is excited ahead of her second season with Specialized Women’s Racing, which finished fourth on the team’s ranking for 2016.

“Coming into my second season with Specialized Women’s Racing, I could not think of a better group of young professional women to spend my time on a bike with,” said Perry who will line up in the five-rider team with Taryn Heather, Madeline Wright, Lucy Bechtel and Ella Bloor at the Tour of East Gippsland.

“We have a great group of riders and support crew, having each other’s backs both on and off the bike. I am excited to see what the team can do on the road as we have a strong versatile roster this year, and I’m sure we will only build on the success of last year.”

The two-day, three-stage Tour of East Gippsland for women will be held on February 18-19 and features an 8km individual time trial in Metung and 71km road race on Saturday, and a road race around Lindenow on Sunday beginning from 8.30am.

“I have never personally raced this event, so it is a new event for me! With a time trial and two roadies I have no doubt it will be some hard and fast racing,” Perry remarked.

“It is great to see that Cycling Victoria have been able to step up and support the women’s Subaru NRS event. I can only see this being mutually beneficial to both riders and organisers alike; giving us more opportunities to race at the top level, whilst lifting the profile of a local event.”