Hunter, Henderson, Sutton to headline new Australian criterium series

Bates builds on Cronulla event with four new races

Long time Australian race organiser Phil Bates launched a new five-round criterium series to be held in New South Wales at the state’s Parliament House today. South Africa’s Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Cervelo) and Team Sky riders Chris Sutton and Greg Henderson are amongst the big-named riders already confirmed for the series, called the NSW Grand Prix of Cycling.

Held from December 8-12 the series will see four new criteriums in Bathurst, Parramatta, Gosford and Coogee join Bates’ existing criterium held in Cronulla each December. The series first two races in Bathurst and Parramatta will be twilight events, with Gosford to hold a night-time race under lights from 8:00 PM on the Friday. The series will then return to Sydney for two beach-side events in Coogee on the Saturday and finish with the Cronulla Grand Prix on the Sunday.

Reigning women’s Cronulla GP winner, and newly crowned Commonwealth Games champion, Rochelle Gilmore will lead her Honda Dream Team at the new series.

“It was very satisfying to win the gold medal in Delhi but now all I’m thinking about to tell you the truth is Phil Bates’ races and to try and win not only Cronulla but a couple of the other races,” said Gilmore. “The competition will be tough: I know Phil will get in all the best riders from around Australia and also international riders.

“We’re not laying back and relaxing – it’s the start of our summer and we’re taking it very seriously,” she added. “I’m really looking forward to this new five day event.”

After missing out on the victory to Ben Kersten last year, Sutton is keen to put in a strong performance and hopefully end his duck at the race in Cronulla, where he grew up. “It’s great to have a big series of international races back [in NSW],” said Sutton. “It was great to have one criterium but now we’ve got five which is great. In New South Wales I think this is what we need for backing and development – it’s going to be great.”

Both the Coogee and Cronulla events will be broadcast on live television in Australia, with the Nine Network to also feature highlights from the first three events. NSW Minister for Major Events Kevin Greene described the events as an outstanding addition for the state.

“I congratulate Phil for his work with Events NSW and the government to be able to bring together what will be an outstanding group of races,” said Greene. “Not only do we have a field of the highest international calibre, but it builds on the great reputation that cycling has not just here in New South Wales but throughout Australia and the world.”

The first four women’s races will be 20 kilometres in length with the Cronulla finale to be contested over 24 kilometres. The men will tackle 30 kilometres during the first three events, before increasing to 36 kilometres for the Coogee race and 40 kilometres in Cronulla.

While the entry list is yet to be confirmed international riders Julian Dean, Henderson and Hunter are expected to line-up alongside locals like Simon Gerrans, Matthew Hayman, Cameron Meyer, Jack Bobridge, Matthew Wilson and Sutton. More international riders are expected to be announced, with the series staged immediately after Melbourne’s Track World Cup round.

To see more images from the launch of maps of the five courses, click here.

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