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.
Having won the past two time trial titles, 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.
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.