Australian Nationals 2014 – Road Race

Sunday 12 January

The individual time-trial threw up a surprise result, with Michael Hepburn taking home the jersey, but what will happen in the road race?

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 21.00.08The riders go 18 times around the 10.2km circuit, covering a total of 183.6km.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 21.03.11The circuit starts with a climb up Buninyong Hill, 3.1km at around 5%. On the surface it isn’t too difficult but the riders have to tackle it 18 times!

In 2013, a large group escaped at the start and Luke Durbridge didn’t come back. He lost his ITT crown on Wednesday and will be keen to try and retain this title.

Here is a list of the recent champions:

2013 – Luke Durbridge, 2012 – Simon Gerrans, 2011 – Jack Bobridge, 2010 – Travis Meyer, 2009 – Peter McDonald, 2008 – Matthew Lloyd.

Some of the riders are not at top form yet, and they will be riding to try and get closer to peak condition for the Tour Down Under.

These races are incredibly difficult as some teams have lots of riders and others only 1.

Orica GreenEDGE have 10 riders – Durbridge, Meyer, Howson, Hepburn, Hayman, Gerrans, Clarke, Docker, Goss and Matthews.

Team Sky – Porte and Earle

Garmin-Sharp – Dennis, Von Hoff and Morton

Belkin – Bobridge, Tanner and Brown.

Where as the Austalian, Drapac Team, have 13 riders in the race!

Other big riders include: Cadel Evans(BMC), Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff-Saxo), Zak Dempster(NetApp-Endura), Adam Hansen(Lotto), Allan Davis(without contract) and Matthew Lloyd(Jelly Belly).

This year, the course is easier, but the teams will have to work together to control the Drapac riders. Orica have the most quality, and riders for the break and sprint finish. Michael Matthews took the sprint for 2nd, in 2013, with Steele Von Hoff 3rd. If it ends in a sprint, these will be the riders to beat and they both have the legs to make it to the end. However, it appears that Matthews is suffering from a back injury and may not start. Even if he does, he will struggle to be competitive. Orica also have Goss but he might not reach the end, so they will have to change tactic and try for a breakaway win.

I still fancy a sprint finish but think that it will be Steele Von Hoff that clinches his 1st national road race championship. He survived with the bunch in 2013 and the course is slightly easier this year. He has just won the national criterium title and got valuable race action in the bay crits, where he worked for a teammate. If it comes back for a sprint, he’ll win it.

Watch out for Lotto’s Adam Hansen. His team are talking up his chances in the Tour Down Under, so he must be in very good form. He loves a break and is a very dangerous rider.

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