By John Kenny
The Australian three-stage grand prix starting on Friday has received 335 entries, an increase of 43 percent from last year, of which 281 are for the men's events. The races form part of the Victorian Open championships and the Tattersall's cup series.
"The increase in prize money to $17,000 has helped boost the numbers," said event organiser John Craven. "The event being linked to the Victorian championships and the Tatt's cup has helped increase numbers as well."
Some of Australia's best home-based riders will compete in a time trial, a criterium and a road race. The cumulative points system and a $4000 prize pool for the overall grand prix place-getters has also helped ensure that riders enter all three events said Craven.
Tour of Gippsland winner Wesley Sulzberger (South Australia.com - AIS) will be one of the favourites for the overall win, along with team-mates Daniel McConnell, Sean Finning, Steve Wooldridge and Miles Olman. The team was the most successful team at the Gippsland tour, claiming a clean sweep of the podium and winning four of the nine stages.
Some of the other favourites include Peter Milostic (Penrith Panthers), Robert McLachlan (Drapac Porsche) and Peter McDonald (FRF Couriers-Excelpro).
Katie Mactier will be the clear favourite in the women's road race and criterium. "There are only 54 entries in total for the women's event, which is disappointing [although] Katie Mactier is riding the road race and the criterium and she will be clearly above her opposition. It's wonderful to have her in the field," said Craven.