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Sprint kings to battle at Surfers Paradise

Baden Cooke won in South Bank

Baden Cooke won in South Bank (Image credit: Tim Francis)

The 2007 Grand Prix Tour moves to Surfers Paradise December 8-9 with its second and final weekend of racing.

In his Unibet jersey for the final time before moving to Team Barloworld in 2008, Baden Cooke will take on the likes of Robbie McEwen, who has won four of the event's six years, 2007 Herald Sun Tour winner Matt Wilson, Henk Vogels and Simon Gerrans. McEwen has only been beaten at Surfers Paradise by four-time Olympic medallist Brad McGee and Nick Gates.

Cooke will be racing fresh off his win last weekend at the South Bank Grand Prix, which also doubled as the Australian National Criterium Championships. He finished third in last year's Surfers Paradise.

"The shorter course at Surfers is much harder to establish a break and technically more difficult so it's important to stay out of trouble," said McEwen who will bring his experience to bear Sunday on the tight, demanding 950m course around Cavill Avenue, Elkhorn Avenue, Orchid Avenue and The Esplanade.

2004 Olympic gold winner Graeme Brown will return to the series Sunday; he won the overall last year, but missed last weekend due to track racing commitments. The race will serve also as Matt White's final competition in Queensland before retirement.

Joining the men for only the second time in the event's history will be the women. Oceania champion Rochelle Gilmore will be looking to redeem herself after a mistake last weekend when she failed to realize that Kirsty Broun and Carly Higgerd were actually off the front in a break and not trailing the bunch. The mix-up happened after a crash in the main peloton caused confusion.

"I'm so psyched for Surfers this weekend after what happened," said Gilmore. "I was asking the girls in the bunch, ‘Are they away?' and nobody realised it. Sara Carrigan actually congratulated me on winning after we crossed the line."

Carrigan claimed the inaugural women's title last year. Coming off two-week training break, she's not predicting a podium finish although she has said she will show up and race to support the event.

The 90km South Bank to Surfers Paradise will happen Saturday followed by the Surfers Paradise for various categories on Sunday.

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