The 2017 season kicks off early in Australia with the three-day Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic in and around Geelong, Victoria. Known as the 'Bay Crits', the criterium series is down from four to three days in 2017 to avoid a clash with the Australian national championships from January 4-8.
The 'bay crits' are also an early indicator of who is approaching form ahead of the Tour Down Under (January 17-22), along with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Herald Sun Tour later in the summer.
Attracting Australia's fastest male and female sprinters and select international talent, Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) has been the man to beat over the last few seasons with Chloe Hosking also laying down a marker as the woman to beat.
With a list of former winners that includes Robbie McEwen, Mark Renshaw, Baden Cooke, Melissa Hoskins, and Giorgia Bronzini, the racing may be early but no less ferocious and fast with plenty of early bragging rights up for grabs.
For the 2017 elite men and women's start list, click here and for the Beginners' Guide to the Australian racing season, click here.