2017 Australian time trial and road race champions Rohan Dennis and Miles Scotson return to the start line this week to defend their titles, joined by Richie Porte, and Simon Gerrans who will make his BMC Racing Team debut.
The race returns to Buninyong and while the time trial course remains unchanged, the road race will feature a slight variation with one lap less and the introduction of a technical section running through Federation University.
Race Against the Clock
Having won the past two time trial titles and four in his career, Dennis will aim to make it three in a row when he tackles the 40.9km course on Friday, 5 January.
“It will be interesting because I have only just returned back to Australia after spending winter in Europe, so it will depend on how my body copes in the heat. My form is as good as any other year. It’s all about not going out too hard especially on the final climb on the way back as there are still ten kilometers to go. Those last ten kilometers take longer than you think they should and it’s always mentally tough,” Dennis said.
After taking the win in 2015 and coming second to Dennis in 2016, Porte will return after a year off looking to repeat his podium result in what will be his first individual time trial since stage 1 of the 2017 Tour de France.
“To be honest it’s hard to know how my form is when I haven’t raced properly in so long. For both the time trial and the road race, my goal is to get some good racing kilometers in my legs in the lead up to the Santos Tour Down Under. Anything more than that is a bonus at this stage. I hope to produce a decent time trial result and in the road race, I think we have a strong team to give it a good shot,” Porte explained.
Scotson rounds out the BMC Racing Team field for the time trial and is hoping to improve on his fifth place in 2017.
“I haven’t done an individual time trial since August so it has been a while. I’m looking forward to giving it another go and improving on my result last year,” Scotson said.
Keeping the Green and Gold
Scotson, the defending road race champion, won his first race as a professional when he claimed the title in 2017 with a surprise attack.
“This year there is probably more expectation on me as last year there was no pressure. It was my first race as a professional and I was the only rider from BMC Racing Team competing. That being said, I don’t feel a lot of pressure this year as I have already won an Australian title. The road race is always a lottery and you can’t predict who will win. But, we have a really strong team and we’d love to have the jersey again,” Scotson admitted.
Scotson will be joined on the start line by 2017 runner up and two-time road race champion Simon Gerrans who is set to make his debut in BMC Racing Team colors.
“Being an Australian national champion is something I am really proud of. I see it as one of the big achievements in my career and it was a huge honor to wear the green and gold jersey in the year to follow. I think we have a team to keep a lot of the bases covered for the road race. We have strong guys who can win the race from a long way out and I’ll be confident going into a small group finish. I’d like to think that between Rohan, Richie, Miles and myself, we have riders for all scenarios come Sunday,” Gerrans said.
Dennis and Porte round out the quartet for Sunday’s 185.6km road race.
“Initially I wasn’t planning on doing the road race but when I thought about doing the Nationals after a European winter, I figured it was a good idea to have a long hit out before the Santos Tour Down Under so I decided to sign up. We have a strong team with Miles and Simon as past winners, and Richie and myself, but we do only have four riders. It’s hard for people to say that we have to do all of the work when we have half the riders of other teams. We have the quality but not the quantity so anything can happen on Sunday,” Dennis explained.
Australian National Road Race Championships (5 + 7 January)
Rider roster: Rohan Dennis, Simon Gerrans (road race only), Richie Porte, Miles Scotson.
Sports Director: Klaas Lodewyck (BEL)