Defending NSW Grand Prix champion Chris 'CJ' Sutton (Sky) believes he will face stiff opposition in claiming a third title when the two-race series gets underway next Saturday December 8 at Cronulla. The event continues the following day at Wollongong.
Sutton defeated Michael Matthews (Rabobank), Caleb Ewan (NSWIS), and Ben Kersten (Team Jayco-2XU) for his second-successive series victory in 2011. This time around, Sutton will face added opposition with Orica-GreenEdge, a strong New Zealand team and Australian Continental outfits Budget Forklifts and Drapac heading the field of over 80 men scheduled to be on the startline.
"This is going to be extremely tough to defend the title - 80 cyclists - the powerful Orica - GreenEdge team keen to win and even dual National Criterium Champion and winner of the Cronulla Grand Prix Bernie Sulzberger returning this year in sensational form," Sutton admitted.
Heading up the Orica-GreenEdge challenge will be Leigh Howard who will have strong support from Mitch Docker, Luke Durbridge, Jens Mouris, and Wes Sulzberger.
London Olympic bronze medallist Aaron Gate leads the Kiwi assault while reigning World Madison Champion Kenny de Ketele makes his debut in the series.
Rochelle Gilmore was forced out of the 2011 event through injury but returns in 2012 with a 'dream team' of Myfanwy Galloway, Emily Collins, Lauren Kitchen and Carlee Taylor in support.
It's a line up which will have the Specialised Women SA team in hot pursuit, led by Rebecca Werner, while St George Cycling Club's Ashlee Ankudinoff could also be considered for the win, off the back of her solid form on the track at the recent Glasgow World Cup.