One week out from the start of the UCI Pro-Tour, the best professional Australian road cyclist will be crowned in Ballarat. We’ll have live race updates from the 2014 Road Nats Elite Men’s Road Race from 2.00pm AEDT.
This year’s drawcard will be none other than Cadel Evans who will also ride the Tour Down Under.
A former Road Race World Champion and Australia’s only Tour de France winner, Evans will race the Australian Nationals for the first time in nine years after making good progress in training.
But Evans won’t be the only big name racing on Sunday; Richie Porte, Michael Matthews, Adam Hansen, Matthew Goss and defending Champion, Luke Durbridge will all see Evans on the starting line.
Orica-GreenEDGE will be the most represented in the field, with six contracted riders racing.
Simon Gerrans and Simon Clarke have been in terrific form, with Gerrans wearing the yellow jersey in the 2013 Tour de France and Clarke a constant force in the breakaways of the Grand Tours.
The 183.6km course will include 18 laps of a 10.2 km route which includes two climbs, the first at a 6.4 percent incline for 1.4km and the second at 6.4 percent for 1.1km.
The descent is technical and narrow, which could provide plenty of action should the riders lose their direction.
Goss, Renshaw and Matthews are the sprinters in the field but they will be up against it to remain at the front following the climbs up Mount Buninyong.
A course such as this does suit the likes of Jack Bobridge, Luke Durbridge, Simon Gerrans, Richie Porte and Cadel Evans.
Short, sharp climbs are a feature of many European one day classics as well as time trials.
Riders such as Evans, Porte, Durbridge, Cameron Meyer, Bobridge and Clarke will look to rely on their climbing and time trialling abilities to outlast their sprinting opponents, possibly attacking during the final 20km to try and shake the sprinters.
Should these men make it over the final climb of Buninyong I’d be looking at Durbridge, Evans, Porte and Meyer to fight it out. Evans’ time trial form has not been great lately and he may look to break away on the climb before consolidating on the descent.
Porte has shown his value on the climbs as well as his time trialling ability in 2013 so he won’t be easy to beat.
Durbridge, the defending champion, will be tough to get past, boasting a wonderful time-trialling ability. Should he get into the clear he will need an organised chase to catch him.
Renshaw, Matthews and Goss will have to back themselves on the short climbs to stay with the peloton as the race continues.
Should the three remain with the pack I’d back Goss to win the sprint.
He has a Robbie McEwen-like style that allows him to sprint well without a large lead-out train.
It’s a star studded field and sure to provide plenty of entertainment on Sunday afternoon. Join us for live updates from 2.00pm AEDT.