The top four finishers from the Athens Olympic Games women's road race will line up in Geelong for the opening round of the UCI's Road World Cup on Sunday, February 27 and the preceding Geelong Tour being raced from February 22-24. The World Cup will feature 92 riders from 16 countries in what's expected to be a hard fought race over 119.2km (8 laps x 14.9km). The World Cup start/finish line is in Brougham Street, Geelong and the race will start at 10.00am.
Athens Olympic road race champion Sara Carrigan (Tom van Bemmelen), Olympic silver medallist and reigning world champion, Judith Arndt (Nürnberger), Olympic points race gold medallist and road race bronze medallist, Olga Slyusareva (Nobili Rubinetterie), and the defending World Cup Series champion and Australian time trial champion, Oenone Wood (Nürnberger) who placed fourth in the road race in Athens will all be present in Geelong.
Wood claimed line honours in Geelong last year and performed consistently throughout the season to clinch the Series crown but Carrigan, the 2003 Geelong World Cup winner, is fired up for success. "Wow!," said Carrigan. "It's pretty cool to have such top riders out here for the race and I'm really looking forward to it."
The Athens golden girl, who recently tried her hand on the track and took silver in the individual pursuit at the Australian Championships, says she has had no trouble refocusing after her year of Olympic success.
"I haven't had any motivation problems because I had a huge break of two and a half months after the Olympics and I was really keen to get back into it by then," she explained. "Mentally and physically that was the right thing to do after such an emotional experience."
The stars of the Geelong World Cup will attend a launch at Westfield Bay City Plaza on Friday February 25th from 5.30 to 7.00pm. Carrigan, Wood, Arndt, Bates and other top riders will be there to sign autographs and meet their fans.
The Geelong Tour also returns in 2005 with the world's top women in the saddle in this important lead-in event for the first round of the World Cup. The 2005 Geelong Tour will be raced over three days and will kick off with an individual time trial at Portarlington where the women race against the clock to try and claim the stage and the early overall race lead. Stage Two will be a criterium at Portarlington later the same day. The race will head to Barwon Heads for Stage 3, eight laps of a ten kilometre circuit. The final stage will again begin and end in Lara with the field again facing the tough climb up Mt Wallace. Riders will battle for stage, overall, points and best young rider honours.
Stage 1 - February 22: Portarlington ITT, 8km
Stage 2 - February 22: Portarlington criterium, 30km (30 laps x 1km)
Stage 3 - February 23: Barwon Heads road race, 77.4km (5 laps x 15km)
Stage 4 - February 24: Lara road race, 112.9km
More information: www.geelongworldcup.com