Sydney's Dunc Gray criterium circuit, adjacent to the city's Olympic velodrome, is set to bring together the speed of track competition combined with the team tactics of a road race in the inaugural Gladiator Criterium taking place on Sunday, March 11. Organised by the Lidcombe Auburn Cycle Club, the event will feature up to 12 teams of four riders, one of whom must be withdrawn every 15 minutes, until just one member of each team remains to fight out the finish. And as if one twist wasn't enough, organisers are throwing in another by allowing every rider to take one lap out until the 45-minute mark.
"It's definitely the first time an event of this kind has ever been run," said race organiser Paul Green. "Australian TV station SBS are coming down to televise it, I think everyone's thinking 'oh crap this is going to be interesting!'"
With a first prize of $1600 and a total fund of $8,500 the event has secured participation from the top road teams in New South Wales plus interest from Professional Continental outfit Drapac-Porsche and an interstate squad from Queensland. "We're hoping it'll end in about an eight to ten man sprint," said Green. "If it's still together with 45 minutes to go then some of the weaker teams can hang in there and really try to keep the race as close as possible."
The A-grade Gladiator Criterium is the culmination of the day's events, which also include a full-day track carnival, women's open and men's B-grade criterium races. The race will be called by well-known New South Wales cycling commentator Paul Craft. Festivities start at 11am with the main event taking place at 4.30pm.