The top four finishers from the Athens Olympic Games women’s road race will line up in Geelong for the opening round of the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) Road World Cup on Sunday, 27 February, and the preceding Geelong Tour being raced from 22-24 February.

The World Cup is the prestige series of the women’s cycling international calendar and will feature 92 riders from 16 countries in a hard fought race over 119.2km (8 laps x 14.9km). The World Cup start/finish line is in Brougham Street, Geelong and the race will start at 10.00am.

Headlining the entry list is Athens Olympic road race champion, Queensland’s Sara Carrigan, Olympic silver medallist and reigning world champion, Judith Arndt of Germany, Olympic points race gold medallist and road race bronze medallist, Olga Slyusareva of Russia and the defending World Cup Series champion and Australian time trial champion, Canberra’s Oenone Wood who placed fourth in the road race in Athens.

Wood claimed line honours in Geelong last year and performed consistently throughout the season to clinch the Series crown but Carrigan, the 2003 Geelong World Cup winner, is fired up for success.

"Wow!," said Carrigan. "It’s pretty cool to have such top riders out here for the race and I’m really looking forward to it."

The Athens golden girl, who recently tried her hand on the track and took silver in the individual pursuit at the Australian Championships, says she has had no trouble re-focussing after her year of Olympic success.

"I haven’t had any motivation problems because I had a huge break of two and a half months after the Olympics and I was really keen to get back into it by then," she explained. "Mentally and physically that was the right thing to do after such an emotional experience."

Carrigan will debut with the Dutch Tom van Bemmelen professional team in Geelong after signing on to join the team that also boasts Sydney sisters Kate and Natalie Bates. Kate was last weekend named Champion of Champions at the Australian Track Cycling Championships in Adelaide after winning three gold from her three starts in the points race, scratch race and individual pursuit.

Wood, along with Newcastle’s Olivia Gollan, has joined the German registered Team Nurnberger where Arndt will now be a team mate instead of rival.

The 2005 Geelong Tour will be raced over three days and will kick off with an individual time trial at Portarlington where the women race against the clock to try and claim the stage and the early overall race lead.

Stage Two will be a criterium at Portarlington later the same day. The race will head to Barwon Heads for Stage 3, eight laps of a ten kilometre circuit.

The final stage will again begin and end in Lara with the field again facing the tough climb up Mt Wallace. Riders will battle for stage, overall, points and best young rider honours.

Stage 1 - Portarlington
Tuesday 22 February
8km individual time trial
Start: 10.30 Finish 12.00
Start/Finish line on The Esplanade

Stage 2 - Portarlington
Tuesday 22 February
30km Criterium (30 laps x 1km)
Start: 2.30pm Finish 3.30pm
Start/Finish line on The Esplanade

Stage 3 - Barwon Heads
Wednesday 23 February
77.4km (5 laps x 15km)
Start: 10.30am Finish 12.40pm
Start line: Ewing Blyth Drive outside Barwon Heads Hotel

Stage 4 - Lara
Thursday 24 February
Start: 10.30am Finish: 1.50pm
Start / Finish line outside Lara Sporting Club on Mill Rd.