Green & gold jerseys the target for Mitchelton-SCOTT’s debut in 2018

Published
01/01/2018
 
 
Mitchelton-SCOTT will make its debut at the Cycling Australia National Championships in Ballarat from Wednesday, chasing coveted green and gold jerseys to take back to the European circuit.
 
With the ‘Bay Crits’ off the program, the championships will be the first hit out of the 2018 season for the now black and yellow outfit.
 
Racing commences with the national criterium championships on Wednesday, 3 January before moving to Buninyong for the time trials on Friday and road races on Sunday.
 
We preview the three events with riders and directors below:
 
Wednesday, 3 January – Criteriums
 
Men:
• Luke Durbridge
• Alex Edmondson
• Caleb Ewan
• Lucas Hamilton
• Cameron Meyer
 
The criterium championships return to the centre of Ballarat with Mitchelton-SCOTT’s gun sprinter Caleb Ewan on the hunt for his third successive title – a feat never achieved before.
 
Should the 40-lap race not result in a sprint, Australia’s only WorldTour team also has previous winner Cameron Meyer (2013), who is making his return debut for the outfit, and others as options.
 
Caleb Ewan:
“I’m definitely going into the criterium to try to defend my title. We should have a really good team there so I think we have a pretty good chance.”
 
Matt Wilson – Sport Director:
“We have five guys and a really good team to support Caleb. Anything less than a win would be a disappointment and by all reports everyone is going well so we are hoping for a good race.”
 
Women:
• Jessica Allen
• Janelle Crooks
• Gracie Elvin
• Sarah Roy
• Amanda Spratt
 
Strength in numbers is the name of the game for Mitchelton-SCOTT women in the criterium championship on Wednesday night. Whilst they have the defending champion Jessica Allen and the pure speed of Sarah Roy, the real power comes in the level of threat all five starters pose for their rivals. It’s a game of cards and Mitchelton-SCOTT aren’t afraid to play them.
 
Jessica Allen:
“I’m really excited to be racing the national criterium on Wednesday as the defending champion. There are a lot of strong riders who can win, but I also think any of my teammates can win it too. I am motivated to defend the titles and keep the jersey in the team, whether it’s on my shoulders or one of my teammates.”
 
Gene Bates – Sport Director:
“It’s no surprise we have one of the strongest teams in the race and we definitely have multiple riders who the win the race in different scenarios. The level of the field in getting higher and we need to be wary of like Holden Racing and Specialized so we have to race aggressively and tactically smart if we want to win.
 
 
Friday, 5 January – Time Trials
 
Men:
• Luke Durbridge
 
Mitchelton-SCOTT will line up with just one representative in the time trial, but as a previous winner Luke Durbridge knows what it takes.
 
The up-and-back 40.9km undulating course often subjected to tough winds, with Durbridge also up against some world-class competition.
 
Luke Durbridge:
“The national time trial has always been a special race for me, winning it on two previous occasions. The course has been similar for a few years now so you understand what it entails – it’s a hard course on a rolling terrain, you have to save some energy for the way back as it’s more difficult.
 
“It’s rare to do a one-day time trial. The only other time is at the world championships. I would like my time trial to become more of a strength again so it’s important to do as many as you can. I’m looking forward to the challenge of racing some of the best time trial riders in the world with Rohan (Dennis) and Richie (Porte) setting the bar at the moment.”
 
Matt Wilson: Sport Director:
“The time trial isn’t a specific target for Luke, but like always he is training himself into good condition for this time of year so anything can happen on the day of a time trial. Defending champion Rohan Dennis and teammate Richie Porte will be tough to beat.”
 
Women:
• Alex Manly
• Lucy Kennedy
 
With world championship bronze medallist Katrin Garfoot no longer in the team colours, the time trial championship will be tough to defend. Alex Manly and new signing Lucy Kennedy will race for valuable experience with the under-23 title a big aim for Manly.
 
Alex Manly:
“I’m looking forward to having another go in the individual time trial. It will be a good guide to see where I am at and an opportunity to practice my position and pacing and I don’t get the chance to race many time trials throughout the year. Having the under-23 category gives me some more motivation to have a good ride.”
 
Gene Bates – Sport Director:
“Alex has had a different preparation this year, focussing on the track with Commonwealth Games coming up, so there is no great pressure on her for this race but we are keen for her to focus on the discipline in the future.
 
“Similarly, Lucy has shown time trial ability in the past and we think she can do well in the future so it’s a good opportunity to race a high-level time trial because there aren’t many on the program now.”
 
 
 
Sunday, 7 January – Road Races
 
Men:
• Luke Durbridge
• Alex Edmondson
• Caleb Ewan
• Lucas Hamilton
• Mathew Hayman
• Michael Hepburn
• Damien Howson
• Cameron Meyer
• Robert Power
 
Back up to nine representatives from six in 2017, Mitchelton-SCOTT have cards to play in Sunday’s road race, including previous winner Luke Durbridge, but they won’t be the only ones.
 
The race returns to the traditional Buninyong area but with a slightly altered circuit that removes one lap and adds a technical section through Federation University. Weather conditions and strategy play key roles.
 
Mat Hayman:
“I’m really looking forward to returning to nationals this year. Anything can happen at that race, the best guy never wins there, but an unfamiliar 900m might see me finally on the top step this year.”
 
Matt Wilson – Sport Director:
“This year will offer a different dynamic for the road race given BMC Racing’s numbers and quality. I still think the race will play around what we do, but they have massive cards to play.
 
“As always if an early break went with the right composition it could win, but with two strong teams to control it adds a different element.  It’s one of those races that is always a bit of a gamble, but one we’d always love to win.”
 
Women:
• Jessica Allen
• Janelle Crooks
• Gracie Elvin
• Lucy Kennedy
• Alex Manly
• Sarah Roy
• Amanda Spratt
 
Having won five of the past six national road titles, Mitchelton-SCOTT women will be on the hunt for another opportunity to take the green and gold jersey back to Europe.
 
The team isn’t expecting too much change from the course but will have some tough new challenges, in the for of former teammates, in 2018.
 
Amanda Spratt:
“January is always a special time to be racing in Australia and I’m always really motivated for this block. I’m going into the races pretty relaxed but knowing I have done the hard work and the shape is good so I just can’t wait to get racing. A lot of girls are trying to making the Commonwealth Games team so the nationals will be important for anyone with that goal. I anticipate a very hard race but I think we have a really strong team ready to do everything we can to get that jersey again.
 
“I’m happy with the changes made to the course. Whilst it’s not a huge difference, I think the short technical part through the university and the drag up the main road with make the overall course slightly harder. I love racing around Buninyong and I’m definitely happy we still have the climb.”
 
Gene Bates – Sports Director:
“I don’t think the course will make too much of a difference, we have one less lap which means the action will start a little earlier and the shorter distance than our overseas also plays a part in that.
 
“We have good riders in good shape who are used to racing as a team and that will be our advantage against other strong riders in Shara Gillow, Katrin Garfoot and Rachel Neylan for example. We don’t have a one rider plan, everyone will have an opportunity.”