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The best field ever assembled for an Australian time trial title will line-up in the elite men’s race on Thursday 8 January, in Buninyong, for the 2015 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships.
Michael Rogers (ACT), a triple world champion in the time trial and 2014 Tour de France stage winner, returns to the nationals for the first time in three years, but such is the caliber of the field, he won’t be the favourite.
Luke Durbridge (WA), Jack Bobridge (SA), Damian Howson (SA) and Campbell Flakemore (TAS) have all been time trial world champions at the under-23 level and will all be on the start line.
Michael Hepburn (QLD), a multiple world champion on the track, comes in as the defending champion while his Orica-GreenEDGE teammate, Cameron Meyer (WA), won the title in 2010 and 2011.
And Richie Porte (TAS), who finished fourth in the time trial at the 2010 UCI Road World Championships, is hoping to get the year off to a good start after a disappointing 2014.
Yet it’s South Australia’s Rohan Dennis, fifth in the time trial at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships, who has been labeled by many of his rivals as the man to beat.
“Even though Hepburn is the reigning champion I’d say from the form after the nationals (in 2014) Rohan would have to be the hot favourite,” commented Durbridge, 2013 road race and time trial Australian champion.
“And then you look at Michael Rogers with his palmares, it’s pretty impressive as a three time world champion. So I wouldn’t cross him off either.
“Then there’s Richie Porte and Cameron Meyer. It’s definitely going to be a hotly contested race.
“Hopefully I can be up in the mix” said Dennis.
For defending champion Hepburn, the honour of wearing the green and gold jersey will provide plenty of motivation.
“It was a really special moment for me winning an Australian title,” Hepburn said.
“To take the national stripes over to Europe and race in all the big races in the national champs jersey is very special.
“I’d really like to [defend the title].
“I think it’s going to be a really tough field this year. I expect there to be close to 10 guys who have a shot of taking the title so it’s going to be a very hard.
“Campbell Flakemore is fresh off winning the under 23 world title and Rohan Dennis was the standout time triallist for Australia last season, so I think there is going to be some stiff competition.”
Dennis, who rides for BMC Racing and has declared himself at the service of Cadel Evans for the road race on Sunday 11 January, isn’t hiding his ambitions for the time trial.
“I’ve had plenty of time on the second and third step over the last 12-months so I’ll be hoping to change that in January,” he said.
2:49:00 pm ____ 10 Jack BOBRIDGE (SA) AUS19890713
2:50:00 pm ____ 26 William CLARKE (TAS) AUS19850411
2:51:00 pm ____ 9 Campbell FLAKEMORE (TAS) AUS19920806
2:52:00 pm ____ 4 Richie PORTE (TAS) AUS19850130
2:53:00 pm ____ 6 Michael ROGERS (ACT) AUS19791220
2:54:00 pm ____ 7 Rohan DENNIS (SA) AUS19900528
2:55:00 pm ____ 50 Ben DYBALL (NSW) AUS19890420
2:56:00 pm ____ 11 Damien HOWSON (SA) AUS19920813
2:57:00 pm ____ 8 Luke DURBRIDGE (WA) AUS19910409
2:58:00 pm ____ 1 Michael HEPBURN (QLD) AUS19910817