SIX current and former champions are expected to contest the women’s events at the 2013 Cycling Australia Road National Championships in January.
Amanda Spratt, Shara Gillow, Ruth Corset, Lauren Kitchen, Bridie O’Donnell and Carla Ryan are among the starters in the battle for the green and gold jerseys for the time trial, criterium and road race national titles in Ballarat.
Orica-AIS rider Spratt, who scored her first green and gold jersey with a bold ride in the road race last year, said the quality of this year’s field would make a repeat performance difficult.
“I will feel a little bit of extra pressure in 2013, as there are certainly a lot of contenders who are out to win it,” the 25-year-old said.
“I will be looking at Rachel Neylan in the road race, she will be one to watch as far as I am concerned.”
Spratt has entered all three women’s events but will focus on the road race on Saturday, January 12.
She welcomed the changes to the criterium and time trial courses.
“The changes in the road race will open it up to a few more riders and makes it a lot more tactical, and to finish with five laps on the Mt Buninyong circuit it will be a really tough race,” she said.
“Also, Lake Wendouree and closed roads for the new time trial is great, although we won’t appreciate the scenery too much I don’t think.
Spratt finished fourth in the time trial in 2012.
Queensland’s Gillow will be gunning to become the first female since Kathy Watt (1992-94) to claim three consecutive time trial national crowns.
Australia’s only rider to contest both the time trial and the road race at the London 2012 Games, Gillow will ride all three events beginning with the time trial on the opening day of the championships on Wednesday, January 9.
Fellow Queenslander Corset will line up in the time trial and road race, with the 2010 national road champion looking to continue her strong 2012 form which saw her claim the individual crown in the Subaru National Road Series.
Ryan, the last rider to claim two crowns at one championship after her stunning victories in the road race and time trial in 2009, will contest the road race. 2008 time trial champion O’Donnell has entered the road race and time trial.
The 2013 Cycling Australia Road National Championships will be held in Ballarat and Buninyong from Wednesday, January 9 to Sunday, January 13.
Cycling Australia Road National Championships
• Time Trial (29.2km), Lake Wendouree, Jan 9
• Criterium (33km), Sturt Street, Jan 10
• Road race (106.6km), Buninyong, Jan 12