Cycling Australia has announced a provisional list of starters for the national championships early next month in Ballarat with a plethora of former winners to line out across the criterium, time trial and road race events.
BMC Racing headline the announcement with its quartet of Australian riders, all former winners, will race across the 3-7 January event. Defending road race champion Miles Scotson, two-time road race winner Simon Gerrans, 2015 time trial champion Richie Porte, and two-time time trial champion Rohan Dennis will all be present in Ballarat and Buninyong.
Cadel Evans claimed BMC's first medal at the national championships in 2014 with the American team going into to claim three green and gold jerseys since. In 2017, Scotson was the sole BMC rider in the road race, springing a surprise in his first outing with the team to claim the road race. With four riders in 2018, Porte, himself a multiple medallist in the road race, is confident of success.
"It will be nice to go into the road race with numbers," said Porte. "With the numbers that we have, four strong guys, I believe we have the guys to do it (win). If its not me, to have someone of the calibre of Simon come and join the team in 2018, Rohan is always up for a good fight and Miles showed last year he could do it."
BMC is likely to come up against a strong and hungry Orica-Scott team with Australia's WorldTour squad still searching for its first national title since 2014. With the likes of Caleb Ewan lining out for the race, Orica-Scott can't be discounted though in the battle of the green and gold.
Cannondale-Drapac can also count on numbers for the road race with Brendan Canty, Mitch Docker, Simon Clarke and Will Clarke all potential starters.
Against the clock, Dennis will again be hard to beat on the course he has made his own in recent years. However, the former Hour Record holder will need to get the better of Orica-Scott duo Cameron Meyer and Luke Durbridge should he claim a third title.
The women's field for the championships is equally strong with confirmation of numerous previous winners. In the road race, defending champion Katrin Garfoot returns but does so in the state colours of Queensland rather than Orica-Scott. Garfoot will be up against former teammates and champions Amanda Spratt and Gracie Elvin, and expects a tough battle to regain her jersey.
"Leading into Commonwealth Games, it will be big," Garfoot said of the championships. "It will be very hard this year to defend the road title because of this, riders want to qualify for the Games. I think that I will be well covered in the race and not being part of the Orica team in 2018 means I will have a few more high-quality opponents this year."
Garfoot is also the defending time trial champion and will be aiming to hold off Shara Gillow (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) who is aiming for a record fifth win against the clock.
The full start list for the 2018 Australian national championships will be announced once entries close on December 22.