Trek Factory Racing’s Hayden Roulston will be hoping to celebrate his 33rd birthday by joining elite company in next month's Calder Stewart national road cycling championships and win a fourth road title. Victory would see the current champion join Nick Carter and Jack Swart on four wins behind only Gordon McCauley who has five victories.
Garmin-Sharp’s Jack Bauer is hoping to take home his second national title having won the race in 2010 and is looking to start his season with a win. Bauer will face a competitive field as he will be joined on the start line by fellow WorldTour riders, new Cannondale signing George Bennett, and Roulston’s teammate Jesse Sergent.
With the national titles decided early in the year, for Bauer the season is more or less a year-round proposition. "I started racing in January and did not finish until late October so it's a huge year," Bauer said.
"I'd like to have a longer break but we have to be ready and in-form to race in the Tour Down Under the week after nationals. From there, it’s the (Jayco Herald) Sun Tour in Australia and on it goes into the Classics back in Europe."
While Bauer admits he isn’t in top shape having enjoyed a break, he is keen to put in a good showing. Bauer triumphed in the year the course was moved to Christchurch and has made the city his training base as he prepares for the 2014 season.
"It's crept up on me a little but I have four weeks until the race so I expect to be in reasonable fitness. I don't like to ride in any race unless I am in shape," Bauer said.
As Bauer is the only Garmin rider at the championships, he will be challenged by the smaller teams who can gang up on him with superior numbers.
"That was the case for the RadioShack trio last time. I've heard a couple of the trade teams have some team plans, so we will have to see how that pans out."
Roulston’s defence of his crown will be helped by having Sergent by his side throughout the race. The duo will debut in the colours of the new Trek Factory Team and have been training in Spain this week in preperation. Bennett meanwhile has been in Italy training with his new Cannondale team.
The 50-strong peloton will include 2012 champion James Williamson, two-time Under-23 winner Michael Vink, national criterium champion Michael Northey and London Olympic track riders Shane Archbold, Westley Gough and Marc Ryan.
The women’s race, which is shorter at 120kms, includes several Pro Tour riders led by five-time world championship medallist Linda Villumsen, her Wiggle-Honda teammate Emily Collins, Be Pink young star Georgia Williams and the experienced TIBCO team riders Joanne Kiesanowski and Rushlee Buchanan.
The time trials for all divisions is on Friday 10 January in Lincoln, the women's road race is on Saturday and men’s 184km race is held on Sunday.