Record entry for Aussie champs

Underlining its growing status as a world power in cycling, Australia will next week celebrate a rec

Underlining its growing status as a world power in cycling, Australia will next week celebrate a rec

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

A record number of cyclists will line up in next week's Australian Open Road Championships in Mt Torrens, South Australia. The men's road race will feature 151 men (93 elite and 58 U23), while the women's event will see 58 riders vie for the honour of wearing the green and gold national champion's jersey in 2006.

2005 Australian Cyclist of the Year Robbie McEwen has his eyes set on defending his 2005 road race crown, but the field is full of potential Australian champions, including Allan Davis, Luke Roberts, Cadel Evans, Mathew Hayman and Simon Gerrans, along with last year's silver and bronze medallists Paul Crake and Robert McLachlan.

The under-23 riders in the combined event will be vying for their own jersey. With 2005 champion Chris Sutton back in Europe for his first year with Cofidis, world under-23 road race runner-up Will Walker has his eyes on the title.

The women's field is full of world class talent headed by world ranked number one Oenone Wood, Athens Olympic road champion Sara Carrigan, sisters Kate and Natalie Bates, Olivia Gollan and 2005 Geelong World Cup winner, Rochelle Gilmore all out to impress.

In the time trial events, Queensland's Nathan O'Neill is aiming for his seventh elite men's time trial crown, while Oenone Wood is targeting her third straight victory in the women's event. The women's time trial is a selection race for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, with the winner securing an automatic place for the event in March. Wood will face some tough competition from the likes of Carrigan, the Bates sisters, Gollan and Barcelona Olympic champion, Kathryn Watt.

The events take place on January 11-14 in Mount Torrens. For race maps and further details go to the official event website www.aorc.com.au

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