Two national road champions and Castlemaine’s Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sean Finning headline the entries for this weekend’s Victorian Open Road Cycling Championships and inaugural Bendigo Grand Prix.
A total of 124 cyclists – 98 men and 26 women – have nominated for the three days of racing, which features individual time trials, road races and criteriums.
Riders will vie for state honours in each race, with the overall men’s and women’s leaders after the three events to be crowned Bendigo Grand Prix champions.
The top 10 placegetters in each race will earn GP points.
The 24.6km women’s time trial starts at 10am on Friday at Emu Creek and will be followed by the men’s 30km race from noon.
National time trial champion in 208, Bridie O’Donnell will be tough to beat in the women’s race.
Bendigo and District Cycling Club riders Nicole McNamara and Rachel Ward will be hoping to use their local knowledge to upset the St Kilda Cycling Club star.
O’Donnell is one of just eight females competing in all three events and should come into calculations for the overall women’s Grand Prix.
The men’s time trial will feature 39 competitors, including six of the eight riders from the professional British Rapha Condor Team taking part in the Grand Prix.
Luke Knox is Bendigo’s sole rider in the men’s time trial, while former Bendigo cyclist Haydn Bradbury, now at Blackburn, will compete.
The British road champion in 2009, Kristian House, won’t race in the time trial, but will be a leading fancy in the 142.2km road race on Saturday.
The national under-23 road race champion in 2011, Ben Dyball should be another contender on the 15.8km circuit around Spring Gully from 12.30pm, following the women’s 79km event from 8.30am.
Five female riders from Bendigo will be cycling for road race glory, while only three of those – Toni Abbisogni, Beth Duryea and Rachel Ward – will race the criterium in the CBD the following day.
Female riders will complete 30 laps of the 850m circuit – beginning in Lyttleton Terrace and continuing along Williamson, Myers and Mundy streets before heading back to the start-finish line from 1pm.
A group of 10 Bendigo cyclists will be in the 52-man field for the criterium, which will cover 40 laps from 2.15pm to finish the Grand Prix.
Castlemaine Cycling Club’s Finning won points score gold at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the all-rounder is likely to try to break from the main group to take the chequered flag in the criterium.
Finning will also compete in Saturday’s road race, but will battle to be in Grand Prix contention as he is not in the field for Friday’s time trial.
Last year, Finning was the sighted pilot for Bryce Lindores, who won silver in the individual pursuit at the London Paralympics.
Finning’s rivals in the road race include several in-form Bendigo competitors.
The Hucker brothers, Tim and Robbie will be confident of a strong race in Sunday’s criterium.
Now racing for Drapac Cycling, Robbie Hucker raced to 13th place in his first start in the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour.
Another competitor from the tour, Heathcote’s Shaun McCarthy has nominated for the road race and criterium, as has Bendigo clubmate Peter Ladd.
Newly-crowned Australian madison champion, South Australian-based George Tansley will be aiming to mark another successful return to Bendigo.
From Mandurang, Tansley was victorious in last month’s Lindsay Harrington Memorial Wheelrace (2000m) on the Tom Flood Sports Centre track.
The Central Districts Cycling Club member will race in the criterium and road race at the Victorian Open.
Those contesting Friday’s time trials include Bendigo’s Brenton Slotegraaf.
Another Castlemaine cyclist, Emma Jackson is in the criterium field.
Contenders for the under-23 titles include Bendigo’s Sam Crome in the road race and criterium, and Jared Hartley in the criterium duel around the City of Greater Bendigo office precinct.