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Gerrans and Dennis headline strong field for 2017 Australian national championships

Two-time Australian national road champion Simon Gerrans and defending time trial champion Rohan Dennis head up a strong list of riders who will contest the criterium, time trial and road race titles in Ballarat early-next month. For the second year running, the defending champion will be absent in the men's road race with current green and jersey holder Jack Bobridge hanging up his wheels and will not ride in 2017 . BMC's Richie Porte will also be missing from the championships as he targets the overall Tour Down Under title in late-January.

The Australian national championships take place January 4-8 with the men's and women's road race both held on 'super Sunday'.

Gerrans will be backed by several of his Orica-Scott teammates, including former road race and time trial national champion Luke Durbridge, former time trial champion Michael Hepburn, current criterium champion Caleb Ewan, Mitch Docker, Damien Howson, Rob Power and Alexander Edmondson.

Orica-Scott haven't won the national title since 2014 when Gerrans took the title ahead of Cadel Evans and Richie Porte and will be aiming to recapture the title.

Dimension Data will be fielding a strong team of Lachlan Morton, Nathan Haas and first year neo-pro Ben O'Connor and will be key rivals to Orica-Scott. The Cannondale-Drapac duo of Brendan Canty and Will Clarke will likewise look to cause problems and take an upset victory. BMC's duo of Dennis and Miles Scotson are likely to target the time trials over the road race but both riders know how to win on the Buninyong course as their U23 road race wins attest to.

Lotto-Soudal's Adam Hansen and Bora-Hansgrohe's Jay McCarthy will be riding solo and add further depth to the men's field. Domestic team Isowhey Sports Swiss Wellness will start the championships with riders capable of placing a rider on the podium in each event at both U23 and elite level and will again be a team to watch.

Cam Meyer will also be lining up and leads a list of dangerous individual riders across the criterium, time trial and road race.

Leading the women's start lists is current time trial national champion Katrin Garfoot along with her Orica-Scott teammates Loren Rowney, Gracie Elvin and current road race champion Amanda Spratt. The Orica-Scott team will also field former criterium champion Sarah Roy as it aims to clean up across all three events. Rachel Neylan won't be racing in 2017 though with her focus in the new year on the Ardennes and European racing.

Shara Gillow is aiming for a fifth time trial title and will a key rival for Orica-Scott against the clock and also in the road race. 2015 road race champion Peta Mullens, and Tiffany Cromwell will likewise look to upset the biggest team at the race as solo riders. 

The quartet of Tour Down Under wild card UniSA-Australia U23 riders Jai Hindley, Lucas Hamilton, Michael Storer and Callum Scotson will be riders to watch across the time trial and road race. Olympic Games silver medallist Sam Welsford is another rider expected to animate the U23 events.

SBS and Fox Sports will broadcast the men's road race live with extended highlights of the women's race on Sunday, January 8.

Official start lists for the championships will be confirmed on December 30. Cyclingnews will have full race reports, results, photos and news from the  Australian national championships.

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