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Cycling stars show support for Cronulla criterium

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McEwen is popular with the media whenever at home in Australia

McEwen is popular with the media whenever at home in Australia (Image credit: Greg Johnson)
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The event will be hosted as near to the one-year anniversary of the Cronulla riots as possible

The event will be hosted as near to the one-year anniversary of the Cronulla riots as possible (Image credit: Greg Johnson)
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The outspoken Alan Jones AO was among the special guest at the event's launch.

The outspoken Alan Jones AO was among the special guest at the event's launch. (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Putting the push back into Cronulla: Its hope the event will help clean the Shire's images following last year's riots.

Putting the push back into Cronulla: Its hope the event will help clean the Shire's images following last year's riots. (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Cronulla International Criterium will circle John McKinn Park and run along Elouera and Wanda beaches.

The Cronulla International Criterium will circle John McKinn Park and run along Elouera and Wanda beaches. (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Matt White (Discovery) & Nick Gates (Davitamon-Lotto) will both compete in the event

Matt White (Discovery) & Nick Gates (Davitamon-Lotto) will both compete in the event (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Queenslander Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) will take on the Shire boys on their home turf

Queenslander Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) will take on the Shire boys on their home turf (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Brantz interviews triathlete Chris McCormack

Brantz interviews triathlete Chris McCormack (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Ben Kersten is expected to make his cycling return in Cronulla, having recently undergone back surgery

Ben Kersten is expected to make his cycling return in Cronulla, having recently undergone back surgery (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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McEwen is popular with the media whenever at home in Australia

McEwen is popular with the media whenever at home in Australia (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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The event has Jones' support

The event has Jones' support (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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A tracing of the beachside course

A tracing of the beachside course (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Triathlete Chris McCormack will take on the pro riders a month after taking second at the Hawaiian Ironman

Triathlete Chris McCormack will take on the pro riders a month after taking second at the Hawaiian Ironman (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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The event will be hosted as near to the one-year anniversary of the Cronulla riots as possible

The event will be hosted as near to the one-year anniversary of the Cronulla riots as possible (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Ben Kersten hopes to take part in the Grand Prix

Ben Kersten hopes to take part in the Grand Prix (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Steve Wooldridge is interviewed by Channel Nine's Stephanie Brantz

Steve Wooldridge is interviewed by Channel Nine's Stephanie Brantz (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Olympic and Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Steve Wooldridge

Olympic and Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Steve Wooldridge (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Sports personalities, politicians and media alike gathered for the event's launch

Sports personalities, politicians and media alike gathered for the event's launch (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Cronulla circuit from above

The Cronulla circuit from above (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Jones is the Deputy Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission, among many other roles

Jones is the Deputy Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission, among many other roles (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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All class: The event was launched at NSW State Parliament

All class: The event was launched at NSW State Parliament (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)
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Master of Ceremonies Stephanie Brantz

Master of Ceremonies Stephanie Brantz (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Cyclingnews.com)

By Greg Johnson

The covers were taken off plans for a new annual criterium to be held in the New South Wales' Sutherland Shire at an unveiling at the state's Parliament House yesterday. Some of the nation's most influential sporting figures were on hand for the Cronulla International Grand Prix's launch, ahead of the inaugural event to be held on Sunday, December 17.

Among those at the launch were Predictor-Lotto team-mates Robbie McEwen and Nick Gates, Discovery Channel's Matt White, Rabobank's Graeme Brown, Australian Olympic cyclists Ben Kersten and Steve Wooldridge, and triathlete Chris McCormack ­ all of whom will contest this year's CIGP.

"We are proud that the event will be held in such a vibrant attractive and picturesque part of Sydney," announced Kevin Greene, MP. "The fact that the competitors will include Olympic and Commonwealth Games competitors will ensure this event is considered a must-do on the cycling calendar," he said.

The event, organised by Phill Bates, AM and John Scott, will include a 40km elite men's criterium to be held on the 1.3km beach-side circuit, as well as an elite women's race, plus veterans and junior divisions.

"I'm very pleased on behalf of NSW Health to announce we will be the principal sponsor and also have naming rights for this event," revealed NSW Health Minister, John Hatzistergos, MLC. "We will use it as an opportunity to market some very important health promotion messages ­ particularly around wellness."

Event organisers have secured a 90-minute television package with the Nine Network which will include live coverage of the Elite Men's race starting at 11am. The television package will also be broadcast in Europe and Asia at a yet-to-be-revealed time.

"I've for a long time been concerned on the one hand about the tremendous profile of cycling and on the other hand about the low profile it tends to get," said influential radio broadcaster and deputy chairman of the Australian Sports Commission, Alan Jones, AO.

"Cycling deserves a better fate than what's dished out to it. I think anything that can be done to elevate the profile of cycling and encourage people to understand, anything that can be done to advance that has to be a good thing."

It's hoped the Grand Prix will help rebuild the area's reputation which was destroyed last year during an afternoon of racially-motivated riots.

"It will be staged, as you know, one year after the riots that did so much damage to the image of that community," added Jones. "The organisers had hoped to get the event up last year but the unfortunate events that took place on December 11th put paid to that."

Among the professional women who have been confirmed for the event are Kate and Natalie Bates, Rochelle Gilmore, and Kate Nichols.

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