Australian time trial stars Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge and Grace Brown should dominate their events on day one of the national road cycling championships.
Defending champions Luke Plapp and Sarah Gigante will not start – Plapp is stranded in Tasmania as the close contact of a COVID-19 case.
Gigante has been out of action since late last year because of the heart condition myopericarditis and will not race at the Ballarat nationals.
Between them, Dennis and Durbridge have won seven out of the last 10 national time trial titles, with Durbridge finishing runner-up to Plapp a year ago.
While Dennis is the better-credentialled time trial rider, with two world titles, Durbridge beat him to claim the title at the 2019 and ’20 nationals.
Durbridge has won the national elite time trial championship four times – one more than Dennis.
But Dennis won bronze in the time trial at the Tokyo Olympics, while Durbridge competed at the Games in the road race.
Gigante’s absence makes Brown the overwhelming favourite in the women’s elite time trial.
She was runner-up to Gigante at the last two nationals.
Brown finished fourth in the time trial at the Tokyo Games amid a stacked field and was only seven seconds off the podium, confirming she is the new Australian star in the women’s event.
The men will race over a 37.5km course that starts and finishes at Federation University’s Mt Helen campus, near Ballarat.
The women will go against the clock over a 28.6km course.
Wednesday’s opening day of the nationals will also feature Paracycling, masters and juniors time trials, with the elite women from 3.45 and the elite men’s time trial starting at 5.30.