The five-day Jayco Bay Cycling Classic criterium series starts today in Williamstown and features a host of top Australian riders including three of Australia's Athens gold medal-winning team pursuit riders, Graeme Brown, Brett Lancaster and Stephen Wooldridge, Tour de France green jersey winner in Robbie McEwen and former top mountain biker turned road race Cadel Evans. A strong women's field is headed by World Cup champion Oenone Wood, Rochelle Gilmore and junior track world champion Amanda Spratt.
McEwen has won this series five times and will be determined to hang on to his title, and is paired with team-mate and lead-out man Nick Gates in the Drapac-Porsche team, but he'll face strong opposition from Graeme Brown, who seems to have conquered last year's injury problems and has lead-out man Brett Lancaster on his Colnago/Caravello squad.
Oenone Wood took the overall women's title last year, but Hayley Rutherford and the Mercure Geelong team will be looking to knock her off her perch, as will the NSW Institute of Sport team of Kate Bates and Rochelle Gilmore. NSWIS won in 2002 and 2003 and coach Gary Sutton has a simple goal. "We aim to get back that title," he said.
Acing starts at 12.30 today in Williamstown, followed by rounds in Portarlington, Geelong (two days) and Docklands.
For more details see www.jaycobayclassic.com.au
Jayco Bay Cycling Classic criterium series
Round 1 - Wednesday, January 5: Williamstown Start: 12.30 pm, finish: 3.30 pm
Round 2 - Thursday, January 6: Portarlington Start: 12.30 pm, finish: 3.30 pm
Round 3 - Friday, January 7: Geelong - Ritchie Boulevard Start: 5.00 pm, finish: 9.00 pm
Round 4 - Saturday, January 8: Geelong Botanic Gardens Start: 5.00 pm, finish: 9.00 pm
Round 5 - Sunday, January 9: Docklands Start: 10.00 am, finish: 1.30 pm