Three-time time trial world champion Michael Rogers and accomplished German rider Judith Arndt will spearhead record fields at the Scody Australian Open Road Cycling Championships, January 7-11. The six-event championships on the acclaimed Buninyong circuits near Ballarat have attracted 400 entries across the board, and race director John Craven described the entry response as overwhelming.
"The championships are packed with class," said Craven. "Buninyong is poised to host a feast of world-class cycling. To have riders of the calibre of Michael Rogers and Judith Arndt contesting the titles is a terrific vote of confidence in the City of Ballarat's promotion of the event."
Rogers, who was leading the 2007 Tour de France before crashing heavily, made a spectacular comeback from illness to line up at the Beijing Olympic Games where he was sixth in the road race and eighth in the time trial.
He will contest the 39km Mars time trial on Thursday, January 8, and the 163km road race on Sunday, January 11. The latter has drawn a record 126 riders, including other Tour de France stars Baden Cooke, Trent Lowe, Mark Renshaw, Adam Hansen, Matt Wilson and Allan Davis.
Beijing Olympian and reigning road race champion Matt Lloyd will endeavor to retain his title, while 2007 winner Darren Lapthorne will try to regain the green and gold jersey, and 2006 Commonwealth Games Champion, Matthew Hayman, from Canberra, is seeking to claim his first elite Australian Championship.
Craven said that Arndt was arguably the world's best female road rider of the past decade, having won the road race at the 2004 World Championships and taken a silver medal at the Athens Olympic Games. She was also the individual pursuit world champion in 1997.
Last year, an estimated 17,000 spectators lined the route for the elite men's road race. "The 10.2km Buninyong circuit helps create a Tour de France-style atmosphere and spectators love it," he added.
Australian Open Road Championships
Wednesday, January 7: Men's Under 23 time trial (28km) and Women's time trial (28km)
Thursday, January 8: Men's time trial (39km)
Friday, January 9: Rest day
Saturday, January 10: Men's Under 23 road race (122.4km) and Women's road race (102km)
Sunday, January 11: Men's road race (163.2km)