Brown aiming for second Cronulla title

Strong field to challenge sprinter

Rabobank’s Graeme Brown is being touted as the man to beat in the elite men’s category at Sunday’s Cronulla Grand Prix, but there will be plenty of talented riders trying to ensure the race doesn’t go Brown’s way. Brown is looking to end a drought at the race, with the rider finishing second and fourth since winning the race’s first edition in 2006.

Hoping to prevent the rival sprinter from fulfilling that wish is Garmin-Slipstream’s Christopher Sutton, who will join Team Sky next season. Sutton has never won the 40-kilometre race but is looking to improve on his third place from last year.

While the race won’t decide the Australian Criterium Championship, as it did in 2008, a strong field of riders had entered regardless. The two ProTour riders will get stiff competition in former Australian Road Champion Matthew Wilson (Team Type 1) and USPro Criterium Championship race winner Ben Kersten.

David Pell shouldn’t be discounted either, with the youngster’s strong road season including criterium wins in at the Tour of Wellington and OCBC Cycle Singapore Criterium. Joel Peason is another rider taking part with a good track record, having finished second to Brown in 2006.

The men’s race, which starts at 1:15 PM, also includes some international flavour in the form of Great Britain’s Jeremy Hunt and Chinese Taipai rider Po Hung Wu.

The women’s race will be an interesting battle between two Australian stalwarts, which could be upset by one of several strong younger women. Rochelle Gilmore and Katherine Bates have been prominent in Australian women’s cycling for many years and are favourites for victory.

Gilmore will benefit from the support of her Honda Dream Team team-mates, with the squad making its debut at the race. While Bates, who is making a return to cycling, doesn’t have the support of a team, she has claimed victory at the race previously – something that has eluded Gilmore.

It would be wrong to write off the women’s race, which starts at 12:10 PM, as a two-horse race as it enjoys one of the strongest women’s fields to date. Youngster Skye-Lee Armstrong has always finished near the front in Cronulla and like Tiffany Cromwell is another of the cards Honda Dream Team has to play.

The women’s event will include several strong track riders including young sensation Megan Dunn, West Australian Josephine Tomic and Belinda Goss. Columbia-HTC-bound Chloe Hosking is another rider who could score an upset win if the 24 kilometre race unfolds in the right way.

The race will be televised nationally by Network Nine from 12:30 to 2 PM.

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