Copyright: Con Chronis

Former junior time trial world champion Macey Stewart’s return to cycling continues this week on familiar roads, with the Subaru National Road Series crossing the Bass Strait for the 11th edition of the Mersey Valley Tour.

The Mersey Valley Tour is the third event for women on the 2017 Subaru NRS calendar, and will showcase the picturesque region through three stages from Friday 12 – Sunday 14 May.

Australia’s best female domestic riders will line-up for a three-stage tour in picturesque northern Tasmania. After a strong performance at the Tour of the South West last week which saw her take the Young Rider’s leaders jersey, Devonport-born Stewart is eager to race on home soil.

“We are really excited to bring everyone down to our home state and contest the Mersey Valley Tour,” said the Tasmanian Institute of Sport team captain who leads the Subaru NRS Young Rider rankings.

“My family and friends will be there to support us – it’s great to be out in the local community representing Tasmania.”

Stewart was one of the world’s top young cycling prospects as a teenager, with junior world titles to her name on both the track and the road.  However fatigue and family reasons forced the 21-year-old to take a break from the sport in 2016.

Now back on the bike with an eye on the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2020 Olympic Games, Stewart is hoping local knowledge will aid her this weekend.

“We have a really strong team for the Mersey Valley Tour,” Stewart continued. “We have been training on the course lately, and some of our younger girls are really strong up the hills.”

The local favourite will have to overcome a strong field if she is to secure her maiden Mersey Valley Tour victory.

Specialized Women’s Racing are sending a strong team to the Apple Isle in an attempt to defend Kate Perry‘s 2016 title, while current individual rankings leader Shannon Malseed and 2016 NRS championLisen Hockings (Holden Women’s Racing) looked unstoppable at the recent Tour of the South West.

The strength of Tasmania’s next-gen will be on show with recently-crowned Oceania road race champion Madeleine Fasnacht and Anya Louw joining Stewart in the top three of the Subaru NRS Young Rider rankings.

One of the toughest events on the Subaru National Road Series calendar, the Mersey Valley Tour commences with a stunning ocean-side individual time trial on Friday 12 May (9.30am-12pm).

In Saturday’s 75km road race (8.30am-11.30am), the riders face the Gunns Plains ascent, one of the most challenging climbs in Tasmania, before the winner’s jersey is determined with a 76.2 kilometre road race around Railton on Sunday (from 8.30am-11.30am).