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  This year the criteriums start off the Australian National Championships giving the sprinters a chance to shine on the opening day.

The Route

The circuit is the same as previous years. The 1.1km circuit is not flat, starting with a brief rise before a descent and an uphill final 400m to the finish at around 3%.

2014 Results

1 Steele VON HOFF
2 Anthony GIACOPPO +2
3 Brenton JONES +2
4 Cameron MEYER +4
5 Michael FITZGERALD +4
6 Rico ROGERS +4
8 Allan DAVIS +4
9 Craig HUTTON +4
10 Darren LAPTHORNE +8

The Contenders

Full Start List available here

Steele Von Hoff

Finished second in 2013 after Cameron Meyer held off the chase. Last year Von Hoff took the win in a bunch sprint to pull on the Green and Gold jersey. Von Hoff was left in the dark when Garmin-Sharp left him hanging on if his contract would be renewed. After signing with British continental team NFTO Von Hoff will ride a lot of criteriums in 2015, providing extra motivation to retain the title.

Second on stage three of the Bay Crits but unable to beat Ewan and has no teammates for support. With no team support expect Von Hoff to play a waiting game and try and win a bunch sprint.

Caleb Ewan

Won both the under 23 criterium and road race last year and is the big favourite to take the elite criterium title this year. Despite still being under 23 years of age, Ewan now rides at the elite level due to his professional contract with Orica-GreenEDGE. There is probably nobody in the field who can match Ewan's speed so in a sprint finish expect to see Ewan as the name to watch.

Ewan won the first three stages of the Bay Crits thanks in part due to his teams dominance. A rare chance to be the first rider to clean sweep the event fell apart when Orica-GreenEDGE let a break go up the road on the final stage. With just one rider on the team here it might be hard to stay in contention.

Orica-GreenEDGE's focus is on retaining their road race and time trial wins but Ewan will still have strong support from Leigh Howard.

Brenton Jones and Drapac

After winning the Bay Crits in 2014 Jones came in as a name to watch and he didn't disappoint claiming bronze. Jones went from strength to strength throughout the year winning both in Australian in the NRS and also overseas. Jones, now with Drapac has confirmed himself as one of the top sprinters domestically.

Last year Drapac's entire train went down on the final corner so expect to see them determined to make up for the disappointment of last year. It is a strong team to support Brenton Jones and the recruitment of leadout man Graeme Brown will be key to that. The engines of Bernie Sulzberger and Sam Spokes add additional firepower to the team.

Shannon Johnson

A name that might not be familiar to those who don't follow domestic racing in Australia. Johnson started out racing superbikes before switching to cycling. The criterium specialist picked up wins in Noosa and Tasmania at the end of 2014 as well as numerous victories during the NRS. He might not have the team of a number of other favourites but expect him to work off other teams.

Anthony Giacoppo

Giacoppo took the win in 2012 ahead of Renshaw and Von Hoff. A long time rider of the now Avanti Racing Team will look to start off strongly but is just one of a number of options the team has. In recent years has spent a lot of his time as a leadout rider for the likes of Brenton Jones, Scott Law and Steel Von Hoff. Runner up to Steel Von Hoff last year who could again be in contention.

Neil van der Ploeg

Neil van der Ploeg won the Stan Siejka Cycling Classic in Launceston in December for the second time, beating Steele Von Hoff. One of a number of options for Avanti racing and a regular winner in Australia. Finished seventh last year but teammate Giacoppo finished second. Depending on the tactics of Avanti van der Ploeg could well be in contention for the victory.

Luke Davison, Scott Sunderland and Budget Forklifts

Budget Forklifts may have been a bit under the radar over the past few years with the success of Avanti and Drapac but the team consistently picks up big results in Australia and Asia. Several new recruits bolster the team including most of the Australian men's track endurance squad.

Luke Davison a former NRS winner and World and Commonwealth team pursuit champion packs a fast finisher and could challenge the likes of Ewan and Johnson. Former team sprint and Commonwealth 1km TT champion Scott Sunderland continues his switch to endurance and won the Shimano Super Crit in a dominating sprint. The course here though might be too much for Sunderland.

Sam Witmitz won three stages and the overall at the Tour of Taihu Lake. Likely to be used in a leadout but with Tommy Nankervis the team has a formidable train.

Wesley Sulzberger

After being dropped by Drapac, Wesley Sulzberger finds himself on the now continental Navitas Satalyst Racing team run by his manager. The former under 23 World Championships silver medallist had a solid 2014 season finishing second at the Adelaide Tour and sixth at the Tour of Tasmania. Has a strong finish and will be looking for early season results to rebuild his career.

Luke Ockerby

The track and criterium specialist could prove to be the real surprise. The former winner of the Stan Siejka Classic has spent the past few weeks at the Tasmania Christmas carnivals picking up a number of wins and podiums. Has a very quick sprint and could upset a number of better-known rivals.

Other names to watch: Oliver Kent-Spark, Ryan MacAnally, Rico Rogers, Pat Shaw, Stu Shaw, Paul Van der Ploeg, Mitchell Mulhern, Ben Hill and Craig Hutton.
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