January 4- 8, Ballarat, Ballarat, Road - CN

The Victorian city of Ballarat will again play host to the Australian national championships with the best riders in the country looking to emulate the prospectors of the mid 19th century and strike it rich by claiming gold.

The championships will open with the Wednesday evening criterium on Sturt St, followed the next morning by the time trials on the Buninyong course for a third year. There is a day off for the riders on the Friday before racing resumes Saturday with the U23 men's road race on the iconic Mt Buninyong circuit.

The championships then conclude with 'Super Sunday' with the elite women's race in the morning, and the elite men's taking place in the afternoon to ensure a bumper day out for the crowds.

Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) will be the man to beat in the criterium with competition to come from two-time winner Steele von Hoff, Scott Sunderland and Brenton Jones. The women's race is a more open affair with two-time winner Kimberley Wells a standout in the provisional start list.

BMC duo Rohan Dennis and Miles Scotson are likely to once again challenge for the time trial with the former aiming to defend his title. The Orica-Scott trio of Luke Durbridge, Damien Howson and Michael Hepburn are other riders expected to challenge for the TT title. In the women's field, Shara Gillow is targeting a record fifth TT title and will be a rider to watch.

Simon Gerrans will again be the man to beat in the road race with another strong field expected to be finalised over November and December. There will be no defence for Jack Bobridge as he announced his retirement late in the year. However, a strong field will again line up and ensure a deserving champion is crowned on Sunday afternoon.

In the women's field, Orica-Scott remain the team to beat with Katrin Garfoot (TT) and Amanda Spratt (RR) taking the spoils last year. In the road race, they will have numerous cards to play and will enjoy the advantage of being the largest team on the day. There will be plenty of challengers to Orica-Scott riders across the three events with exciting racing all but assured. 

For the Beginners' Guide to the Australian racing season, click here.

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