Australian Road Nationals 2017 – ITT Preview #Roadnats

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-14-48-56We are back on the traditional route for the TT in the last few years, a very demanding out and back course in Ballarat. The men have to cover 40.9km, with the women and under 23s doing 29.3km.

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-14-38-31It’s a horribly demanding route and one that requires excellent pacing. We’ve witnessed some riders going out too fast in previous years, you need to save a lot of energy for the return leg. The road back to town features the harder side of Hardies Hill, 1.2km at 5.3%, but then the riders have to climb all the way to the finish. This is a tough TT.

Weather

It looks like we could get rain towards the end of the day. That means the later starters in the men’s race could have wet roads. The rain could have a big say in who wins the men’s ITT crown.

Under 23 Men

Callum Scotson is back to defend his title. Last year he surprised a few by beating his big brother, Miles, by 20 seconds. The two brothers were miles ahead of everyone else, Ben O’Connor picked up the bronze medal finishing 1:12 behind Callum.

This year, Miles Scotson, is in the elite ranks, so Callum will have new rivals to deal with. Scotson is clearly the big favourite, but that doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable. Going up against him will be Michael Storer, another of the Aussie academy riders. Still just 19 years old, he has a big future ahead of him and it will be good to see how much progress he has made over the last year, he finished 6th in 2016.

Also looking to compete for the podium will be Alistair Donohoe, Joshua Harrison and Liam Magennis. Donohoe is well known, thanks to his exploits in the field of para-cycling. He continues to improve and should be able to push his younger rivals to their limit. He is a better road racer than TT rider, but he has a chance of making the podium.

Prediction – Callum Scotson looks to be in a league of his own.

Women

With just 18 women taking to the start line, we only have a handful of contenders. Katrin Garfoot is a wonderful TT rider, amazingly last year was her first Aussie title. She starts the race as the undoubted favourite, after finishing 2016 in brilliant form. Her bronze in Qatar was a great reward for her hard work, but she’ll still be gutted at missing out on gold by 8 seconds.

Shara Gillow had won the title for four consecutive years, until Garfoot beat her in 2016. It wasn’t the best season for her and she will be concerned at the progress some of her rivals have made. As much as she would love to try and beat Garfoot, I think she has a job on her hands fighting for silver.

The main pressure will come from Lucy Kennedy, Lisen Hockings and Kate Perry. Hocking was the surprise winner of the Tour of Bright TT, beating Shannon Malseed, Annemiek Van Vleuten and Kate Perry. It was a massive result for her and she’s be looking to do much better than her result from 2016, where she was 8th in the Oceania ITT.

Kate Perry is another that made big improvements in the TT department, finishing 4th in the Aussie TT and 3rd in the Oceania event. Despite losing to Hockings in the Tour of Bright, she’ll be eyeing up a spot on the podium.

Prediction – Very hard to see anyone getting close to Katrin Garfoot.

Men

Rohan Dennis returns to defend his crown after a disappointing end to 2016. After promising so much, he’ll have been devastated to miss out on a medal in Rio and Qatar. No doubt, he’ll be looking to make amends in 2017. Dennis beat Richie Porte here in 2016, reversing the result of 2015. With no Porte this year, it looks like being an easy defence for Dennis. His main rivals look like being Sean Lake, Miles Scotson, Michael Hepburn and Luke Durbridge.

Sean Lake was the surprise of 2016, claiming bronze and then the double gold(ITT and RR) in the Oceania Games. He didn’t really do much the rest of the year, so it’s a bit unknown how his form his. What we do know, is that this race is a huge target for him and his team. He will be hoping to go one better than last year and take the silver medal.

Orica have Durbrudge and Hepburn, two of their old guard. Both riders have an excellent upbringing in this discipline. Back in 2011, Turbo Durbo won gold in the under 23 World Championship, Hepburn picked up bronze. Turbo has won three Aussie TT crowns and Hepburn has one to his name. Saying that, both riders have not performed to a high level for a while now, although Durbo did partner Sven Tuft to the Duo Normand win at the end of 2016. Durbo has looked towards becoming a classics rider and Hepburn has slipped towards the scrap heap. Although, his performance in the recent Bay Crits hints that Heppy has his mojo back and could be ready to step back up to his old level.

Miles Scotson steps up from the under 23 ranks and he has a big reputation. Young riders usually take a while to settle into the elite level, but Scotson has a real chance of taking a medal on debut.

Prediction – Rohan Dennis by over one minute. If it rains, it becomes a bit of a lottery.

A big thanks to the good people @LasterketaBurua for allowing me to use their profiles, go give them a follow on Twitter.

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