ORICA-GreenEDGE sprint star Caleb Ewan will team up with lead-out man Mitch Docker and debutant Alexander Edmondson as part of a formidable lineup at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic?starting on Friday, 1 January 2016.
Ewan has twice won the ?Bay Crits?, including as the youngest ever winner for his first victory in 2011, and will return next year as the defending champion after claiming his second overall victory in 2015.
The criterium series officially kicks off the 21-year-old?s second full season with ORICA-GreenEDGE, following a debut season that featured an impressive 11 professional victories.
?I want to win again but it?s just as important to get ready for the Australian summer races to follow,? Ewan said of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic.
?I don?t know how my form is going to be because I haven?t raced since the Vuelta a Espana. Usually I would have done some of the other criteriums in December so you have a rough idea of how you are going but I haven?t raced any of those so it’s difficult to know where I am at.
?My training hasn?t really been training for a one-hour long race, it?s been more for the four and five hour races to come. It wouldn?t surprise me if my form isn?t quite as sharp as last year but obviously I am still there to try to go for the win.?
Ewan won three of the four criteriums on his way to victory in 2015, a feat sport director Matt Wilson admits will be hard to match.
?Last year we exceeded expectations,? Wilson said. ?We will be focusing on stage wins and would obviously love the overall so if we can achieve anything even close to last edition we?d be thrilled.?
Edmondson, who joins ORICA-GreenEDGE in 2016 on a joint program with the national track team in the lead up to the Rio Olympic Games, will make his debut in Geelong in the New Year.
The multiple track world champion and under-23 Tour of Flanders winner will benefit from early experience within the Australian outfit?s sprint train alongside Ewan and Docker.
?The Bay Crits are a great introduction for Alex to start working with Caleb and Mitch ahead of his first season with ORICA-GreenEDGE,? Wilson said. ?And even without that experience working together, they are a pretty formidable trio in a sprint stage.?
The speedy trio will be joined throughout the series by endurance pair Luke Durbridge and Jack Haig.
Durbridge is no stranger to the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic having won the third criterium in Portarlington back to back in 2013 and 2014, whilst Haig is another of the team?s new signings for 2016.
The 27th edition of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic follows the traditional four-criterium route, starting at Geelong?s Eastern Beach for a fast and furious twilight hotdog circuit on New Year?s Day and finishing with the popular Williamstown circuit on Monday, 4 January.
ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic (1-4 Jan):
Mitch Docker (AUS, VIC, 29)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, WA, 24)
Alexander Edmondson (AUS, SA, 21)
Caleb Ewan (AUS, NSW, 21)
Jack Haig (AUS, VIC, 22)