Could there be a better way to kick off the new year than with a no-holds-barred criterium at Geelong's Eastern Beach? We think not! The annual Jayco Bay Cycling Classic begins January 1 and once again some of the fastest men and women in the world will take on the four-race series.
The 'Bay Crits' mark the start of the start of the Australian summer of cycling and the series is an important marker for the two events to follow.
Four days of spectacular racing kicks off on January 5 at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships with the nation's best cyclists fighting it out in criterium, road race and time trial disciplines in the historic centre of Ballarat, Victoria.
While the man deemed Australia's best, Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, won't be there, there is no shortage of talent among the whopping 641 entries. In fact, Evans' last appearance at the championships was in 2005 when they were held in South Australia. Nine titles will be decided in 2012 with 376 riders (165 elite men, 86 elite and under 23 women and 125 under 23 men) vying for the honour of being declared Australian Champion.
The 14th Santos Tour Down enters a new era in 2012, post the appearances of Lance Armstrong upon which the race built a new level of recognition as it entered the UCI's ProTour. This season sees a renewed Australian focus on the six-stage race this January with the unveiling of WorldTour neophytes GreenEdge.
The race receives a further shake-up in the form of the longed-for hilltop finish on Stage 5 at Old Willunga Hill along with a new classification process to be used for the first time for Skoda King of the Mountain climbs, with Menglers Hill on Stage 4 and Old Willunga Hill on Stage 5 receiving Cat 1 status.