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Cycling Australia has released the schedule for the 2015 Road National Championships with the race meet set to feature several changes from previous years.
Competition will begin on the evening of Wednesday January 7 when the riders take to the main street of Ballarat, Victoria for the criterium championships. The Road Nationals have traditionally started with individual time trials on the Wednesday but this year they will be held on the Thursday.
The time trials will move from Burrumbeet to Buninyong and while full course maps are yet to be released, Cycling Australia has promised a lumpy affair, saying in a press release that “there isn’t a flat stretch of road on the course”.
Rohan Dennis (BMC) will go into the race as one of the hot favourites, not least because of the lumpy parcours.
“From what I’ve been told it does suit me over the bigger guys”, Dennis said. “Being a little bit hillier … the slight power-to-weight benefit I do have will hopefully help.”
Dennis is keen to make amends for a frustrating nationals time trial earlier this year when a freak gust a wind blew him off his bike, scuppering his chances of victory. He’s also keen to improve on several near-victories in the past 12 months while racing for Garmin-Sharp and then BMC.
“I’ve had plenty of time on the second and third step in the past 12 months so I’ll be hoping to change that in January”, Dennis said.
After a rest day on the Friday, the Nationals resume on the weekend of January 10 and 11 with the road races, contested on a 10.2km circuit which starts and finishes in Buninyong and takes the riders part-way up Mount Buninyong. The men’s U23 road race will be contested in the morning (132.6km; 13 laps), followed by the combined U23 women’s & elite women’s road race in the afternoon (102km; 10 laps).
Defending champion Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) has won the road race in the past two years and was asked at today’s official launch of the Road Nationals whether she could make it three in a row.
“I’m going to give it a bloody good crack. I quite like the stripes. It’s my jersey,” Elvin said. “I’m always proud to line up with the green and gold jersey internationally and sit on the start line alongside the other national champions.”
She will face stiff competition from other favourites, not least Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-Lululemon) and Holden Women’s Cycling duo Ruth Corset and Ellen Skerritt.
The road nationals conclude on Sunday with the elite men’s road race, which will be 18 laps of the circuit for a total of 183.6km. Like Elvin, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) goes into the race looking to win a third national title but will once again square off against the likes of Richie Porte (Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC), both of whom shared the podium with Gerrans at this year’s race.
The Nationals will be the third-last race of Cadel Evans’ career, which will end with the Santos Tour Down Under and then the event named in his honour, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race which starts and finishes in Geelong on February 1.
Evans’ chances of winning the green and gold bands at Buninyong have been bolstered by the addition of Campbell Flakemore and Rohan Dennis to the BMC ranks this year. When asked about Evans’ chances, Dennis replied: “The road race will be Orica-GreenEdge versus everyone else”.
“We’ll have to take a gamble and stick to our guns while they’ve got a lot more cards to play.”
Simon Gerrans was asked at the press conference whether he’d be happy to see Evans win the green and gold jersey if he or a teammate wasn’t able to take victory.
“No way. I think it would be a real shame for someone to win the national title, get the green and gold jersey and then retire, because then we wouldn’t see it for the next 12 months”, Gerrans said.
“Obviously the priority is to get it for myself or one of my teammates but otherwise I think it’s great to see the Australian champion racing in Europe … at big races like the Tour de France, so I’d like to see one of Australia’s best that are going to continue to wear the jersey.”
The full schedule of the 2015 Mars Cycling Australia Road Nationals is as follows:
The time for the elite men’s road race is yet to be confirmed as Cycling Australia weighs up potential TV broadcast options with a number of networks.
“To maximise the viewing numbers for this race, and across the whole season, we need to lock in the best television deal we can,” Cycling Australia’s CEO, Nick Green, said in a press release.
“And part of that could include having the race start a little earlier than in previous years to fit in with the television networks programming schedule.”