By Paul Verkuylen
The line up of the Cronulla international criterium being held on Sunday December 16 has been announced today and will see some of Australia's best riders line up to farewell Matt White on the streets of his home town.
Event promoter Phil Bates told Cyclingnews that the plan was to build on the success of last years edition which saw 8000 spectators line the streets of Cronulla to watch local boy and Rabobank rider Graeme Brown take the title.
For Matt White the event holds special significance as it will be the final time he races a criterium as a professional. "This is by far the best field ever assembled for a criterium in Australia," he said.
White explained that all the current crop of Australian ProTour riders who were able to make it and ride will be there. Others, like Cadel Evans who is currently enjoying a break before his preparation for the 2008 season, will be in attendance but won't be riding.
"It's pretty special, all these guys are coming for one reason," White said referring to his final race. "It's going to be a good weekend.
"We all race together all the time, but not everyone together at the same race."
Over 50 riders will take part in the event including Stuart O'Grady (CSC), Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto), Baden Cooke and Matt Wilson (both Unibet.com), Allan Davis (Discovery), Scott Davies (T-Mobile), Aaron Kemps (Astana), Simon Gerrans (Ag2r), Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Chris Sutton (Cofidis). "It will be far from a procession," Bates said.
The day also include a women's race that will showcase some of Australia's finest women cyclists including Sara Carrigan, Rochelle Gilmore and the Bates sisters, Kate and Natalie. Support events for juniors, masters and an open men's event will also be held along with an inline skating race and a 1500m running race that will pitch most of the Cronulla sharks against anyone game enough to take them on.
The event will be televised live on Channel nine in Australia with coverage starting at 12.30pm.
"NSW is in dire need of some big sporting events after Victoria pinched them all, so it's going to be pretty special," White concluded.