Australian women's cycling took a step forward today with the launch of the Honda Hybrid Women's Tour.
Although the Australian men have been grabbing the headlines recently, it has so often been the women delivering the results for Australia including Kathy Watt's gold medal ride at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and Sara Carrigan in Athens in 2004.
This success has been achieved despite the lack of a major multi-stage tour for women in Australia, which is about to change with the inaugural Honda Hybrid Women's Tour, which will run in conjunction with the 2009 Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Former world championship silver medallist Liz Taylor (nee Tadich) was the driving force behind the race: "The Honda Hybrid Women's Tour is a landmark event for women's cycling in Australia. It gives female cyclists the opportunity to compete in a world class event on home soil and help raise the profile of our future superstars in Australia and around the world," said Taylor
The race will feature some of Australia's leading women, including Rochelle Gilmore, who has just returned from the world championships in Switzerland.
The current Oceania road champion will start among the favourites for the race, having previously won a round of the World Cup in Geelong and ridden to multiple Australian track titles.
She won't have it all her own way however as the strong MB Cycles team from Queensland will field a five women team, including current Australian criterium champion Kirsty Broun and former Olympic rowing representative Amber Halliday, 29.
Earlier this year, 30-year-old Broun won the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic and finished an impressive third in the Tour of Qatar, making her one of the women to watch.
Halliday and Broun will be joined by another former Olympic rower as Sally Robbins, 28, continues her foray into cycling.
The race will also feature many of Australia's developing cyclists from state institutes of sport and Victorian-based teams, including Prime Estate and RACE.
Forming part of the Women's National Series the Honda Hybrid Women's Tour commences at the picturesque seaside resort of Anglesea on Thursday October 15 and winds through the Bellarine Peninsula before returning to finish in Anglesea.
On Friday, October 16, a time trial will be held along the beautiful foreshore of Geelong and on Saturday, October 17, the riders will be tested on a fast and demanding circuit taking in Lygon Street in Carlton.
In addition to becoming the naming rights sponsor of the women's tour, Honda also announced its appointment as the official vehicle supplier to the 2009 Jayco Herald Sun Tour.