Bay Series begins January 3

A high class and star-studded field will contest the 2007 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, which begins in Williamstown, Victoria next Wednesday January 3.

Known as the 'Bay Series', the event features five criteriums over the course of a week. Points are awarded for the top ten placegetters in each race to determine overall winner, who will be fighting for approximately $26,000 prize money, according to race promoter John Trevorrow.

Six-time series champion Robbie McEwen is looking for his seventh title, and will head a strong Volvo team, which features fellow pro rider Nick Gates, and Queenslanders David Kemp, Craig Cahill and Jason Phillips.

However, the Jayco VIS team looks the team to beat on paper, featuring Olympic gold medallist and former Giro d'Italia pink jersey holder, Brett Lancaster, Sean Finning, last year's Stage 3 winner Richard England, Nicholas Sanderson and rising star Leigh Howard.

Dual Jayco Herald Sun Tour winner Simon Gerrans heads the Portfolio Partners team and will be joined by fellow Victorian David McPartland, VIS rider Johnny Clarke, UK rider Brett Perez. Stage winner from last year's event, Mark Renshaw, heads the Skilled team with fellow NSW riders Jeff Hopkins and Australian Grand Prix criterium champion Cody Stevenson.

Another young team to watch will be HLP Mortgage Co, featuring Victorian rising stars Michael Ford, Johnny Walker, Nicholas Walker, Patrick Shaw and young West Australian star Cameron Meyer.

The women's event also has its share of champions with local star and defending champion Katie Mactier heading the Portfolio Partners team with rising Victorian star Tess Downing, Australian Junior track cyclist of the year.

Commonwealth Gold medallists and sisters Kate and Natalie Bates team with national criterium champion Alexis Rhodes, NSW rider Amanda Spratt and Commonwealth Games athlete Olivia Gollan to form a formidable Pitcher Partners team.

The Jayco VIS team is headed by Jenny MacPherson and Peta Mullens - the latter Australian junior road cyclist of the year. Australian reps Belinda Goss and Skye-Lee Armstrong also feature in the event.

The men's support event will showcase of the next generation of riders as a prelude to the senior racing. It features such riders as Jack Bobridge, Kyle Marwood and Daniel Thorsen.

Stage 2 moves to Portarlington on Thursday 4, Geelong waterfront Friday 5, Eastern Park - Geelong on Saturday 6 and the final stage at Melbourne Docklands Sunday 7.

The second running of Amy's Ride will also take place on the morniing of January 6, giving cycling fans the opportunity to ride with their heroes and raise funds for the Amy Gillett Foundation.

Event schedule:

Wednesday, January 3 - Williamstown, 12:30pm
Thursday, January 4 - Portarlington, 12:30pm
Friday, January 5 Geelong - Ritchie Blvd, 4.00pm
Saturday, January 6 Geelong - Botanical Gardens, 4.00pm
Sunday, January 7 - Docklands, 10.00am

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