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Star-studded line-up for Bay Crits

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Simon Gerrans (Portfolio Partners) won the final race in 2007

Simon Gerrans (Portfolio Partners) won the final race in 2007 (Image credit: CJ Farquharson)
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Women's series winner, Kate Bates (Pitcher Partners)

Women's series winner, Kate Bates (Pitcher Partners) (Image credit: Shane Goss)

By John Trevorrow in Williamstown

The 2008 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic was launched this week at Pelican's Landing Restaurant overlooking the start line of the first race which starts in Williamstown, Victoria on Wednesday, January 2. Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady was there to join Hobsons Bay Mayor Bill Baarrini in launching the series and they were joined by Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson and Simon Gerrans.

General Manager of the Amy Gillett Foundation, Melinda Jacobsen, was also present to launch the third Amy's Ride which will be held in conjunction with the final day in Geelong on Sunday January 6. The event promotes mutual awareness and understanding between cyclists and motorists and raises money for the Amy Gillett Foundation, formed in commemoration of the life of elite Australian cyclist, Amy Gillett, who was killed whilst training in Germany in 2005.

O'Grady was exited at the prospect of lighting up the streets of Williamstown in a few days. "The Jayco Bay Crits are the fastest crits anywhere in the world and the depth of talent in this series is quite staggering," O'Grady said. "The adrenalin starts pumping when I think about how that first day is going to go with so many quality criterium riders all trying to gain an advantage. It will be awesome."

It seems strange to say that this is the best field ever in the 20 year history of the event, considering that Robbie McEwen is not starting. McEwen is arguably the best criterium rider in the world, but with superstars such as O'Grady, Allan Davis, defending champion Mark Renshaw, Olympic gold medallists Graeme Brown and Brett Aitken, along with US NRC champion Rory Sutherland, Hilton Clarke, Aaron Kemps and Henk Vogels, you have one heck of a bike race.

Then, just to top it all off, throw in a few road specialists who are pretty handy criterium riders such as Simon Gerrans, Matt Wilson and Will Walker; not to mention a strong international presence led by classy road sprinter Jeremy Hunt, Dutch criterium specialist Pieter Braekeveldt and the crack Japanese team Aisan.

Several Aussie young guns are starting to challenge the establishment, too, and are sure to make this series something special. Leigh Howard, Cameron and Travis Meyer, Jack Bobridge, Glen O'Shea and Miles Olman are exciting young stars who will put pressure on the established riders.

The women's series of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic has become a sensational event over the past few years and 2008 looks to continue that tradition. The top draw cards will be defending series and world points champion Kate Bates, sister and Commonwealth gold medallist Natalie Bates, Olympic road race gold medallist Sara Carrigan, former world number one Oenone Wood, Belinda Goss as well as 2007 Canadian national champion and world championship medallist Gina Grain.

Although he won't be putting on a number, Tour de France runner-up and UCI world number one Cadel Evans will be the official host, there to mingle with his many fans. Evans will also be doing commentary with 'the voice of cycling' Phil Liggett and former Giro d'Italia stage winner David McKenzie. The event will be the focus of a two-hour highlights program on Australian TV station Network Ten.

Also on Sunday will be the third edition of Amy's Ride. This wonderful recreational cycling challenge will again give thousands of cycling fans the unique opportunity to ride along with the stars of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic as well as raise funds for the Amy Gillett Foundation. It's not a race but a fun ride where fans get to rub shoulders with the stars. For more information on the series, visit the official website and

The races

Wednesday, January 2 - Round 1: Williamstown
Support 12:30pm, Elite Women 1:30pm, Elite Men 2:30pm

Thursday, January 3 - Round 2: Portarlington
Support 12:30pm, Elite Women 1:30pm, Elite Men 2:30pm

Friday, January 4 - Round 3: Geelong - Ritchie Blvd
Celebrity 4:30pm, Support 5:00pm, Elite Women 6:00pm, Elite Men 7:15pm

Saturday January 5 - Round 4: Geelong - Eastern Park
Support 1:30pm, Elite Women 2:20pm, Elite Men 3:10pm, Celebrity 4:20pm

Sunday, January 6 - Round 5: Geelong - Eastern Park
Amy's Ride 8:30am, Support 1:30pm, Elite Women 2:20pm, Elite Men 3:10, Celebrity 4:20pm

How it works

The elite men and women's events are contested by teams and prizes are awarded for the three best teams overall. Points gained by the top three riders in each team are added together each day. The team with the most points at the end of day five is the winner.

However, the individual award is the most prestigious. Each day the first 10 cyclists receive points awarded for their finishing position: 12 for first then 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. The leading rider on points wears the Yellow Jersey and the rider with the most points at the end of the final race is the series winner.

In addition there is the Sprint Ace Award with 3, 2 and 1 points awarded for the intermediate sprints each day that go towards the overall sprint ranking. The leading Sprint Ace wears the green jersey.

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