News feature, December 15, 2005
2006 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic launched
Amy's Ride and Greater Dandenong Criterium new additions
By John Trevorrow in Melbourne
The 2006 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic was launched on Wednesday at the magnificent Werribee Mansion Hotel. A large contingent of Melbourne media was in attendance to launch the prestigious criterium series along with the new Jayco Greater Dandenong Criterium and the very special event, Amy's Ride.
Bruce Astbury of the Jayco Corporation presented a $21,000 cheque to the Amy Gillett Foundation which was gratefully accepted by Simon Gillett In a moving tribute, Simon Gillett spoke of his hopes for the future of the Amy Gillett Foundation and the difference he believes the Foundation can make in educating drivers and cyclists.
Peter Bartels, Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission, also spoke of the initial shock of the tragedy in Germany and how the girls have progressed. Kate Nichols gave us an insight into her recovery and about just how much she is looking forward to her first race back: Day 1 of the Bay Classic in Williamstown on Wednesday January 4.
"There is no doubt a terrible incident like what happened in Germany, makes you re-evaluate what is important to you," Kate said. "But after a while I realised I just wanted to race again and I can hardly wait."
Baden Cooke also touched on the dangers of riding on the road. "We all have had close calls and it is something that is on your mind when you are on a bike," Cooke said. "I just hope that the Foundation can help in educating some of the crazy drivers out there that come so close at times."
Amy's Ride is an exciting public participation event where the participants get the unique opportunity to ride with the stars of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic. All 250 riders in the elite, women's and support races will ride with the fans and actually be there to mingle and look after anyone in trouble. They will be called Amy's Army for the day, and will even change your tyre for you if needed.
Amy's Ride will be held in Geelong on Saturday January 7 starting at 9.30 am and gives cyclists five ride options. All sponsorship dollars raised and $10 from each entry will go towards the Amy Gillett Foundation. For more information go to www.amysride.com
Cookie hungry for wins
Once the subject of the Jayco Bay Classic came up a spark came into Baden Cooke's eye. "I was only about 15 cm behind McEwen on the weekend and I haven't being doing any speed training yet. I reckon I can give him a run for his money in the bay crits."
Robbie McEwen is attempting to do a Lance and get his seventh Bay Classic win.
Simon Gerrans doesn't believe he can stop McEwen, but also feels he can make his mark on the event. "Robbie is probably the quickest in a short sprint out of a corner but I hope to be able to get up the road and at least win a stage," Gerrans said.
Simon Clarke is excited at the opportunity to gauge himself against the best. "The Jayco Bay Classic is the fastest racing you can do," Clarke said. "If you can be up there in these races then you can match it with anyone."
With other serious contenders in Mark Renshaw, Brett Lancaster and Hilton Clarke, the Jayco Bay Classic looks set to live up to its reputation as the fastest criterium series in the world.
The women's event has evolved into a brilliant series over the past decade and will be a team's event again. The international women's event will feature Dual World Cup Champion Oenone Wood, Olympic Road Race Gold Medallist Sara Carrigan and Olympic Pursuit Silver Medallist and World Champion Katie Mactier. Wood, the defending champion, had a great year and she will start favourite. But she will have plenty of stiff opposition.
Other riders to put up their hands to challenge are 2002 winner Rochelle Gilmore, 2003 winner Kate Bates, Belinda Goss and 2004 runner up Hayley Brown. One of the highlights of the series will be the return of Kate Nichols and Alexis Rhodes.
The Friday evening event on Geelong's magnificent waterfront will also be the Australian Criterium Championship for men and women.
With the close co-operation of forward thinking councils, City of Greater Geelong, Hobson's Bay City Council and Melbourne Docklands / VicUrban, we have been able to put together the biggest series in its 17 year history.
A record 16 teams will face the starter on January 4. Two teams from Jayco, Skilled, Volvo, UNO Clothing, Mercure Grand on Swanston, Werribee Mansion Hotel/NSWIS, Drapac-Porsche Cycling Team, Pitcher Partners, Bicycle Superstore, McKnight's Retravision/Fisher Paykel, SBR, FRF Couriers - Colnago/Caravello, Mercure Geelong/Geelong Cycling Club, Portfolio Partners, Richmond Cyclery/Promains.
The women's series became a teams event last January and now has nine teams for 2006: Jayco VIS, Volvo Australia, Mercure Geelong, Welcome Inn, Werribee Mansion Hotel, Pitcher Partners, Bike Now, ACT and Siemens. Support sponsors such as Sanitarium and Blood Toyota Geelong also help make the series such a special event.
The men's support event has become a fantastic race over recent years with the young stars of the future rivaling the speeds of the international race. Many say it is harder to win the support race in the bay series than most A Grade events around the country.
The circuits are the same as last January with Williamstown Wednesday Jan 4 - 12.30 pm, Portarlington Thursday Jan 5 - 12.30 pm, Ritchie Blvd Fri evening Jan 6 - 5.00 pm, Geelong Botanic Gardens evening Jan 7 - 4.00pm and Melbourne Docklands Sunday Jan 8 - 10.00 am.
There is also a grand Gala Dinner at the Melbourne Sofitel on January 8. This is also the Victorian Cycling Hall of fame awards night and is hosted by Phil Liggett and Rob Gaylard. It gives another special opportunity to mingle with the elite of the cycling world.
Another new event is the Jayco Greater Dandenong Criterium on Sunday December 18. Some of Australia's leading cyclists will be lining up around the brilliant circuit only a short hop from the centre of Dandenong. Baden Cooke, Simon Gerrans, Matt Wilson, Will Walker and Simon Clarke will be challenged by the best home based riders.
Racing gets under way at 11.30 with the under 17 guys and girls, followed by the C grade, B grade, and then the women's criterium. A sponsor's challenge will put some fun into the proceedings before the final one hour elite race at 2.30.
The circuit starts and finishes on Pultney St and takes in Wilson, Langhorne and Wedge Sts, Dandenong.