Green and gold showdown back in Ballarat - Men's Preview

Mon 6 Jan 2020

The official 2020 season will begin on Wednesday for Mitchelton-SCOTT, as their Australian representatives battle it out at the Australian Championships in Ballarat.

Coveted green and gold jerseys are on offer across time trial, criterium and road race events, starting with the race against the clock on Wednesday 8th January and concluding with the road race on Sunday, 12th January.

The team took away two titles in 2019, both in the time trial, when Grace Brown and Luke Durbridge surprised some of their more fancied rivals to finish on the top step. The pair will be back to defend their jerseys, as well as joining team mates in an effort to re-claim the road titles for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Men’s event previews, complete with rider and director comments are below.
Women’s event previews and comments can here found here.

Men’s Time Trial (Wednesday, 8 January):

  • Luke Durbridge (AUS, 28)
  • Michael Hepburn (AUS, 28)
  • Damien Howson (AUS, 27)
  • Callum Scotson (AUS, 23)

Four strong time triallists will line-up for Mitchelton-SCOTT on Wednesday, including reigning champion Luke Durbridge who overcame world champion Rohan Dennis in 2019.

Durbridge’s latest success was his third title, whilst teammate Cameron Meyer has also won on two previous occasions. The quartet will line up against some world-class competition again, including Dennis, on a newly designed course. 

Luke Durbridge:
“I’m looking forward to the nationals. I had a three good hit outs at the Bay Crits which I always like to do before the nationals.

“I’m feeling good for the time trial, I always love the nationals and I take great pride racing here. I like to just get out there and give it a go.

“For me, defending my title would be fantastic. I’ve got some stiff competition with Rohan Dennis as the world champion, but last year he was also world champion and I just gave it a good crack and it worked out alright. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“The reality is that it is going to be hard to beat Rohan, he is a two-time world champion for a reason.  I think if our guys can medal, it will be a good result. Luke had a great ride last year, but after a change of team for Rohan, we know it will be difficult to do it twice.”

Men’s Criterium (Friday, 10 January):

  • Kaden Groves (AUS, 21)

With sprints still taking a backseat, Mitchelton-SCOTT will have just one representative in the national criterium for the second consecutive year. 

In his first full season with the team, Kaden Groves will line up solo on Friday evening. He has the three-day Bay Crits under his belt, including a victory on the final day, but will need to race smart to overcome the teams with numbers. 

Kaden Groves:
“I haven’t raced the nationals since being a first year under-23 in 2017 so I’m happy to start the season off with the criterium in the Mitchelton-SCOTT jersey.   

“Being a solo rider I think I just need to watch for the other teams and see how they’re riding the race.  But all-in all I think the criterium will be a good open up for my first elite nationals road race on Sunday.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“Kaden’s focus is not in early January, so his entry into the criterium is just to get some early racing in his legs and to get the ball rolling for some goals later in the summer and back in Europe.”

Men’s Road Race (Sunday, 12 January):

  • Luke Durbridge (AUS, 28)
  • Kaden Groves (AUS, 21)
  • Lucas Hamilton (AUS, 23)
  • Michael Hepburn (AUS, 28)
  • Damien Howson (AUS, 27)
  • Cameron Meyer (AUS, 31)
  • Nick Schultz (AUS, 25)
  • Callum Scotson (AUS, 23) 

Mitchelton-SCOTT will start Sunday’s road race with eight riders, including former champions Luke Durbridge and Alex Edmondson.

Multiple track world champion Cameron Meyer came agonisingly close in 2019, settling for the bronze medal in a devastating but exhilarating finish. Meyer will be just one of the motivated options for Mitchelton-SCOTT to re-claim the national champion’s jersey.

Cameron Meyer:
“The green and gold jersey would be special to have back in the team. It is always a very hard race and we will try everything we can to claim the title. It would kick start our team’s season in a great fashion.

“The race is always hard to predict. We would like an attacking race and have a lot of options that can go well around this course.” 

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“When you look at the entire field, I don’t think you can say there is a specific favourite. The race can be won by multiple guys, in different scenarios.

“We obviously have a strong team, we don’t have a huge amount of numbers but we certainly do have our strengths in that group. 

“The focus for us is to be taking the jersey back to Europe on someone’s shoulders and it really doesn’t matter who. We just have to play our cards, we have some guys going well for this time of the year and it’s our job to get one of them across the line first.”

Photo courtesy of Con Chronis / Cycling Australia.