The end has come for Australia’s Bay Crits

 Brenton Jones won the opening Citroën Bay Crit in 2023 and went on to take the overall victory

Brenton Jones won the opening Citroën Bay Crit in 2023 and went on to take the overall victory

The Bay Crits have for many years provided that first burst of summer racing in Australia, delivering an often telling opening foray to a jam-packed January where WorldTour professionals and domestic hopefuls combine to give local cycling fans a rare opportunity to see top-level racing on their home roads. The criterium series which acted as a harbinger of the season, however, has now crowned its final victors.

Organisers said on Thursday that the 2023 edition, won by Brenton Jones and Ruby Roseman-Gannon, was the end of the road for a race that started in 1989 and has the likes of Robbie McEwen, Kathy Watts, Caleb Ewan and Chloe Hosking on the winners list.

“It is with a heavy heart we are announcing the famous ‘Bay Crits’ have taken their last pedal stroke, with event organisers making the tough call that the much-loved event will not be continuing into 2024,” event organisers John Trevorrow and Karin Jones said in a statement.

“For the best part of 30 years, and despite some very trying times, we have collectively found a way to make this wonderful event happen, an event cherished by riders, fans, and stakeholders alike and one that has enjoyed a significant place in the Australian cycling calendar.”

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The 2023 edition, made up of three criteriums in Geelong, was already somewhat of a farewell, with men’s overall winner Brenton Jones making it his retirement race. It was a fitting winning finale for the rider who had spent so much time in his formative years on the sidelines helping out, with his mother Karin Jones being one of the organisers.

Still, it wasn’t clear at the time just how complete a farewell edition the three days of racing from January 1-3 would become.

“The financial and logistics issues we have absorbed now over an extended period of time have become simply too prohibitive to continue, with a significant increase in costs again this year,” said the statement from organisers Jones and Trevorrow. ”The packed January cycling calendar has also impacted on the event with it regularly having to start on New Year’s Day. This has made it challenging for many riders and fans, especially those coming from interstate, to participate.

“These factors have increased to such an extent that it is completely uneconomic and unrealistic to get to the start line next year.”

The Bay Crits generally squeeze into a narrow window at the very start of January, with the Australian Road National Championships held in Ballarat early before the international racing gets underway with the WorldTour and Women’s WorldTour stage races at the Tour Down Under in South Australia, which runs over two weekends. After that riders head back to Geelong for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean road race, held at the end of January or in the first days of February. In 2023

“It’s been quite a ride, but all good things must come to an end, and today it is the famous ‘Bay Crits’ that have crossed the line for the final time,” concluded Jones and Trevorrow.