The Australian Criterium Champion jersey will at awarded at January’s Australian Open Road Championships (AORC), with race organiser Caribou Publications confirming the event’s addition to its schedule. The AORC event has previously included the elite men, women and U23 road races, while the criterium race was held elsewhere.
Caribou Publications managing director John Craven said the event’s addition to the AORC schedule would increase the appeal for competitors and spectators alike. “The addition of the criterium category to the championships has added an extra element of appeal for elite riders,” he said. “The field quality so far is shaping as the best ever, which is extremely exciting.”
The Australian Criterium Championship was held at Brisbane's Southbank Parkland in 2007, where Baden Cooke claimed victory. The event was moved in 2008 to the Cronulla Grand Prix, held in Sydney, New South Wales, with Fly V Australia’s Bernard Sulzberger beating Peter Mcdonald to the title. Sulzberger's victory saw the jersey on display in the North American peloton throughout this season.
City of Ballarat Mayor Judy Verlin was enthusiastic about the opportunity for spectators to see criterium racing in her municipality.
“The new format for the championships, with events in both Ballarat and Buninyong, provide great opportunities for spectators to experience elite level cycling up close,” said Verlin. “I encourage local residents and visitors to come to Ballarat and Buninyong and experience all that this prestigious event has to offer.”
Earlier this year Ballarat signed an agreement with Cycling Australia to host the AORC event for a further six years, starting with the 2010 event. January’s event will be the seventh time Ballarat, Victoria has played host to the road nationals.