Belgian bike manufacturer Ridley has announced a major new sponsorship deal with the Noosa criterium, offering a winner takes all first prize of AUD$50,000. The event, to be renamed the Ridley Dash for Cash, will hit the streets of Queenland's Sunshine Coast on November 3.
With additional financial incentives provided by Cateye, in the form of two AUD$5000 primes, the race has already attracted interest from several ProTour teams, as well as Australia's top professionals who return home after the European season.
"I always enjoy coming back to Noosa each November to ride in the criterium - all the boys do," said Queensland native Robbie McEwen, who first won the event back in 1997. "The $50,000 will attract a super field and ensure that we all stay in shape after a hard European season."
Event organizer, USM Events Managing Director Garth Prowd OAM welcomed the appointment of Ridley as the naming rights sponsor to this significant cycling showpiece on the Australian calendar, and a signature event as part of the Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival program.
"We look forward to working with Ridley to further raise the profile of this event and their investment will attract European teams with interest from several ProTour teams," said Prowd.
Event Manager Geoff Meyer further announced the field would be an invitational race due to the tight circuit, restricting the field to 60 riders. Approximately 40 riders will be issued invitations with the remaining 20 places decided through a regional qualifying series in September.
"Due to the increasingly high demand for places in the Ridley Dash for Cash and our Cycling Grand Prix races, holding qualifying events in regional Queensland will give those communities access to cycling expertise and get the sport into some new markets, ensuring its future growth and development," said Meyer.
The Ridley bike brand has a certain affinity with Australian cyclists, being the machine of choice for Robbie McEwen and Cadel Evans at ProTour outfit Predictor-Lotto, formerly Davitamon-Lotto. The company's first all-carbon frame, the Damocles, was ridden to over 100 professional victories in Grand Tours and Spring Classics, while their 2006 Noah model carried McEwen to three Tour de France stage wins plus the green jersey, and Evans to fifth place overall.
The Ridley Dash for Cash will be the highlight of Super Saturday action at this year's 25th anniversary Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival held from Thursday 1 - Sunday 4 November. For further information go to www.usmevents.com.au.