Cycling Australia has confirmed a world-class line up of riders will hit Ballarat in January for the 2017 MARS Road Nationals.
A host of reigning and defending champions have punched their card for the Championships with Rohan Dennis, Amanda Spratt, Simon Gerrans, Katrin Garfoot and Caleb Ewan headlining the field set to battle for the coveted green and gold jerseys from January 4.
Criterium – Wednesday 4 January
The 2017 MARS RoadNats will explode on Wednesday 4 January, with a twilight criterium race on the streets of Ballarat which is set to transform the city into a cycling mecca.
Crowd favourite Caleb Ewan lit up the streets in 2016 with his maiden nationals crown and this January, the Orica-Scott rider will certainly once again be a crowd favourite.
Time Trial – hursday 5 January
On Thursday 5 January, the purest test of cycling fortitude – the individual time trial – will take centre stage along the picturesque rolling hills of Golden Plains Shire.
BMC’s Rohan Dennis grabbed Tour de France yellow in 2015, and donned Aussie green and gold throughout the world in 2016 after soaring to his maiden national time trial crown earlier this year.
Dennis will defend his title in 2017 and form an exciting trio of favourites, with Orica-Scott’s Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn who between them have claimed four of the past five titles.
Looking to cause more than a ripple in the ranks in 2017 will be 2015 national under 23 champion and 2016 World Championship medallist Miles Scotson when he makes his debut in the elite ranks sporting new BMC colours. Eyes will also be on Sean Lake who will be hoping to improve on his 2016 bronze medal.
In the women’s field, reigning national champion and world championship medallist Katrin Garfoot headlines the field with four-time champion Shara Gillow . Gillow is gunning for a fifth crown to equal Kathy Watt’s record.
Road Races – Saturday 7/Sunday 8 January
The iconic Mt Buninyong circuit will once again be the perfect backdrop for the weekend’s road race action. Australia’s rising stars will warm up the course on Saturday afternoon in the under 23 race, while ‘Super Sunday’ will showcase some of the world’s best in the women’s and men’s road races.
Dual champion Simon Gerrans is a favourite, with the Orica-Scott headliner looking to make history by becoming the first man to win three national road crowns since Robbie McEwen in 2005. Gerrans will be backed by a strong Orica-Scott team which includes 2013 champion Luke Durbridge and cult-hero Mitchell Docker.
However the event is wide open for the fifth different champion in five years with a host of WorldTour stars racing in their backyard including Team Dimension Data’s trio Nathan Haas, Lachlan Morton and Ben O’Connor, Lotto-Soudal’s Adam Hansen, Cannondale-Drapac Brendan Canty and Bora-Hansgrohe Jay McCarthy.
In the women’s event, dual champions and teammates Gracie Elvin and Amanda Spratt have the chance to become just the event’s second three-time winner along with Kathy Watt. Standing in their way is 2015 champion Peta Mullens who will be eager to etch her name on the trophy again, with Tiffany Cromwell always a threat with eight top ten finishes in the past ten years.