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Busy summer of racing in Australia
Over the next few weekends crowds in Sydney and Melbourne will get a taste of the racing to come over the Australian summer culminating with the Tour Down Under in January.
The NSW Grand Prix criterium series continues again in 2013 with racing taking place in Cronulla and Wollongong over the weekend of November 30 and December 1. The Logie-Smith Lanyon Super Criterium takes place in Melbourne on December 15 with $20,000 of prize money on offer.
Both races welcome several Australian and international stars for men's and women's events. The Logie-Smith Lanyon Super Criterium is offering equal prize money for the top three place getters in both elite races.
The NSW Grand Prix series won't have the prize money on offer to match the Logie-Smith Lanyon Super Criterium but will be televised nationally.
Being the only criterium series in Australia to receive live coverage for both the men and women makes the racing even more unique.
Leading Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans is a confirmed starter in Melbourne, as are other pro riders Koen de Kort (Argos-Shimano), Matthew Hayman (Team Sky), 2011 Australian criterium champion Johnathan Cantwell (Saxo-Tinkoff), and young gun Caleb Ewan (Jayco-AIS).
"The race format is fast, exciting and tough. The action will be non-stop and brilliant for spectators because it is on a short circuit in the heart of Melbourne," said Gerrans.
"It is also a great opportunity test my legs in the lead up to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Nationals and the Santos Tour Down Under."
On the start line in NSW will be a previous winner of the criterium series, Chris 'CJ' Sutton (Team Sky) who will be joined by Mark Renshaw (Belkin) and Orica-GreenEdge duo Leigh Howard and Jens Keukeleire.
Renshaw is particularly keen on the NSW Grand Prix series having raced in the inaugural event back in 2009. "I love racing at home and I'm delighted that the NSW Government has seen fit to continue to support the series," said Renshaw.
The Wiggle-Honda team will be represented in the NSW criterium series with their new signing Joanne Tralaggan keen to impress in the women's event.
"We will see Jo rise to the occasion and make herself noticed amongst a strong international field in Cronulla and Wollongong at the end of this month," said team manager Rochelle Gilmore who will also be racing.
Joining Gilmore and Tralaggan on the start line will be last year’s winner Sophie Williamson, recently crowned New Zealand national criterium champion Emily Collins and Chloe Hoskins.
With registration open till Sunday night, several more riders in both elite categories are expected to announce their appearances.
As with previous iterations of the criterium series, the rider who accumulates the most points across both races will be declared the victor in 2013.
The Australian racing schedule is particularly busy in January with the national road championships and the Tour Down Under taking place. There will be several riders out to prove their form and fitness in the three races before racing begins in earnest.
All three criteriums are free spectator events and an opportunity to get up close to some stars of the cycling world.