By Anthony Tan
Recently crowned national criterium champion Robbie McEwen will head a formidable line-up of Australian cycling talent at this Sunday's Cronulla International Grand Prix. With the Sutherland Shire Council and the Department of Health as primary sponsors, the local community is no doubt determined to shed the images that were the scene of the Cronulla riots one year ago.
The international elite men's event, named the Horsell International Grand Prix, is one of six races to be held at one of Australia's most famous beaches, situated in the heart of Sydney's Sutherland Shire. Races for elite women, juniors and masters will also take place on the same day.
Apart from McEwen, a three-time winner of the maillot vert (green jersey) at the Tour de France, Graeme Brown, Ben Kersten, Steve Wooldridge, Chris McCormack, Matt White, Mark Renshaw, Nick Gates, Jeff Hopkins and Ben Brooks will all be taking to the start line in the elite men's race.
Conducted on a 1.3 kilometre hot-dog style circuit, with the start/finish opposite the Elouera Surf Life Saving Club, riders initially face north before a tight U-turn sees them follow an anti-clockwise route down Mitchell Road. The generous southern end loop outside the Wanda Surf Club will be a high-speed U-turn, as the peloton exit Murdock Street and travel back up Mitchell Road to complete the first of 30 laps, for a total distance of 40 kilometres.
The elite women's event, held over 24 kilometres of the same circuit, will be feature Commonwealth Games road champion Natalie Bates, Rochelle Gilmore, rising track star Kaarle McCulloch, and former junior world champion Skye-Lee Armstrong.
Opening the racing at 9.45am will be the junior under 15 race, with the final event the Horsell International Grand Prix, starting at 11.30am. A minimum of $10,000 prize money has been secured by event organisers Phil Bates Sports Promotions.