Fledgling UCI ProTour outfit GreenEdge will make their racing debut on January 1 at the Jayco Bay Cycle Classic with a twist to their inclusion with nine riders set to be split between two teams sure to add to the always exciting criterium series in Geelong.
The first will race as GreenEdge and will be led by defending champion, Matt Goss who narrowly took victory over Rabobank's Michael Matthews in 2011. Goss will be joined by tried and tested lead out man and former HTC-Highroad teammate Leigh Howard, six-time winner of the series Robbie McEwen, Wes Sulzberger and Mitch Docker.
"It's definitely going to be an honour to be in the first team and one of the first riders to pull on the GreenEdge jersey and create history when we go and race for the first time," Goss said at the race launch in Melbourne today.
"The team definitely wanted me to do it, and I definitely like to do it. You can really get a sense of where you are at and get a good gauge when you're racing all the best sprinters. Everyone who is going to be competitive at the Tour Down Under is competitive at the Bay Crits."
Meantime, a second squad of GreenEdge men will line up under the Mitchelton Wineries – Lowe Farms banner.
Led by 2004 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic and 2003 Tour de France green jersey winner Baden Cooke, the Mitchelton Wineries – Lowe Farm's team will turn to 2010 Commonwealth Games champion Allan Davis to match the speed of Goss and 2011 U23 time trial champion Luke Durbridge to challenge the grunt of the experienced McEwen.
World team pursuit champion Michael Hepburn will be at home at the world's fastest criterium series whilst 20-year-old Jayco-AIS rider Patrick Lane will complete the five-man team.
Race director John Trevorrow predicts the healthy rivalry will be evident from early on.
"We have all seen the camaraderie between the squad at their first team camp, but there is no doubt that when the racing starts at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic on January 1, it will be game on," Trevorrow said.
"They are professional competitors. Robbie and Gossy I know are charged to go and I'm sure the expectation from the media and fans will add that little more to the fold.
"We know these boys want to set the winning culture for GreenEdge from the very beginning, but we are not going to make it easy for them.
"The race is really starting to take shape, and their list of challengers is building. We will have plenty of announcements in the coming weeks," Trevorrow said.
The Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, the world's fastest criterium series, will kick off the 2012 cycling calendar from Sunday 1 to Wednesday 4 of January and is the perfect opportunity for riders to polish up before the national championships in Ballarat and the Tour Down Under.
In its seventh consecutive year, Amy's Ride, a fun ride promoting mutual awareness and understanding between cyclists and motorists, will feature on Monday before stage two at the Geelong Eastern Park race. Thousands of cycling fans will band together with sporting stars and celebrities to raise money for the Amy Gillett Foundation.