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  2015 Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic Preview  
     
  The fastest citerium series in the world starts off the 2015 Aussie Summer of Cycling, with four criteriums over four days. For those who haven't followed the event before or need a refresher. Points and not time are what matters for the general classification. The top 10 riders on each stage receive points - 12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Six riders are allowed to start each stage but riders are not required to ride all four stages. A number of teams have brought just six riders while others have larger squads and will substitute riders in and out.

2014 Recap

Stage 1 - Zakkari DEMPSTER (From 7 rider break)
Stage 2 - Matthew GOSS (Bunch Sprint)
Stage 3 - Luke DURBRIDGE (From 2 rider break)
Stage 4 - Caleb EWAN (Bunch Sprint)

General Classification
1 Brenton JONES 30
2 Zakkari DEMPSTER 29
3 Caleb EWAN 28
4 Matthew GOSS 23
5 Leigh HOWARD 18
6 Luke DURBRIDGE 18
7 Felix ENGLISH 16
8 Tom SCULLY 15
9 Graham BRIGGS 15
10 Patrick SHAW 10

The Stages

Stage 1 - Ritchie Boulevard
Stage 2 - Eastern Park
Stage 3 - Portarlington
Stage 4 - Williamstown

The Contenders

Full start list available here

Orica-GreenEDGE

Caleb Ewan, 2013 winner and third last year returns but this time with the backing of the powerful Orica-GreenEDGE team. Ewan has won a stage in the past two editions and don't be surprised to see him pick up more in 2015. The 20 year old has been the top sprinter in the u23 ranks the past two years and has already podiumed against World Tour riders.

Ewan is backed by a strong team including Leigh Howard and Mitchell Docker who will be important leadout riders as well as Cameron Meyer, Michael Hepburn and Damien Howson who are able to control the race, chase down a break and string out the field in the closing laps.

Avanti Racing Team

Avanti bring nine riders and while only six can ride in each stage they have the ability to switch riders in and out. The team includes Steele Von Hoff, Anthony Giacoppo and Niel Van der Ploeg all of whom could walk away with the overall title.

Steele Von Hoff is the reigning criterium champion and with the race the last in the rainbow jersey unless he wins again in Ballarat expect to see him want to show it off. The team also has Anthony Giacoppo who claimed silver behind Von Hoff at the nationals in 2014. A third option in Neil Van der Ploeg who proved again he is one of the best criterium riders winning the Stan Siejka Cycling Classic in Launceston in December.

New Zealand Team

Sprinter and leadout man Greg Henderson leads a mostly youthful team of New Zealand's track endurance team. The tactics of the team will be interesting with former World Omnium Champion a potential challenger. Alex Frame who has been riding for Giant-Shimano development ream and finished top 10 at Garmin Velothon could surprise.

Budget Forklifts

Budget brings seven riders but only four are down to start the opening stage. It is another team that is spoilt for choice. Former National Road Series winner Luke Davison returns to the team following a year with Synergy Baku and the Australia National Team as well as World and Commonwealth Gold on the track. Davison packs a very quick sprint and will likely be challenging for the podium positions.

Sam Witmitz won three stages and the overall at the Tour of Taihu Lake, when he took over as the main sprinter after illness took down Jesse Kerrison. Regardless of if he is used as a sprinter or leadout man will be invaluable to the team as will Tommy Nankervis.

Budget also has track stars Glenn O'Shea and Shimano Super Crit winner Scott Sunderland on its roster but with the duo not riding all four stages the overall is not likely to be a consideration for them.

Condor JLT

The British squad returns with the experienced Kristian House. House is a criterium specialist with wins all over the world including in Australia.

Last year the team put two riders in the top 10 with Felix English (7th) and Graham Briggs (9th), while English also won the sprint classification.

Jesse Kerrison

20 year old Jesse Kerrison has taken wins domestically in 2014 and won the opening stage of the Tour of Taihu Lake and then went on to win the Tour of Yancheng Costal Wetlands. His success has earned him a spot on the BMC Development team in 2015. Kerrison's fast finish could see him fighting for the overall win. Riding for the Chain Reaction squad under the guidance of Scott McGrory.

CharterMason Giant

Another team that is taking advantage of the rules allowing teams to use different riders on each stage. Only Joshua Taylor and Paul Van der Ploeg will be riding all four stages. Shannon Johnson is riding the final stage only so expect to see him fighting for the win in Williamstown.

SASI

In a race where the field includes Caleb Ewan, you immediately look to riders who can beat him. Well SASI has one of the few riders in Australia who has, Robert-Jon McCarthy. McCarthy won the 2012 Junior Road Race title ahead of Caleb Ewan in a bunch sprint. In 2014 he won stages of the Herald Sun Tour and An Post Ras, as well ad spending time with the Jayco-AIS WTA squad.

The team also has George Tansley who packs a quick finish and is riding all four stages. Track stars Alex Edmondson, and the Scotson brothers, Callum and Miles will also ride some of the stages giving the team other cards to play.

Other names to watch: Jordan Stannus, Jonathan Cantwell and James Mowatt.
 
 
         
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