Cycling championship: Rhys Gillett ready to handle the toughest roads

RHYS Gillett expects riders able to punch through climbs while maintaining high intensity will be best suited by a new Cycling Australia Road National Championships time trial circuit at Burrumbeet today.

He said while three “climbs” on the 45-kilometre course were little more than “pinches”, they would still be enough to test many riders.

The Ballarat-based Gillett said those with the quickest recovery would most likely handle the title chase against the clock best.

Gillett, who rides for domestic team African Wildlife Safaris Cycling, will contest the elite men’s time trial at the nationals for the first time.

When he last contested the national championships a few years ago Gillett rode at under-23 level.

Gillett does not have any “grand” expectations in the time trial, in which number one seed West Australian Luke Durbridge is going for a third consecutive title.

“I’ve got more of a focus on Sunday (road race at Buninyong).”

Gillett, 23, is returning to the nationals on his home patch after he almost walked away from professional cycling early last year.

He said he was appreciative of the opportunity and support African Wildlife Safaris Cycling had given him through the year, in which the National Road Series was a major focus.

“It’s a good mix. A good bunch of blokes.

“I wasn’t sure what direction to take.”

“They’ve made it easy.” 

Gillett said he had made a slow start, but warmed to task as the year went on.

He said he had taken a short break at the end of the NRS, largely to freshen up mentally, before resuming the build up to the nationals.”

Gillett said he had not done much time trialling for some time and was looking forward to the event.

“I used to do of lot of it. I need to do more of it,” he said.

He said it would provide him a guide as to how his form fared.

Durbridge will again start a firm favourite, but the competition is expected to be hot from last year’s under-23 champion Damien Howson, Michael Hepburn, Rohan Dennis and Will Clarke.

WHILE Luke Durbridge is chasing a hat trick of titles in the elite event after taking out the under-23 championship in 2011, Queenslander Shara Gillow is going for an unprecedented fourth crown in as many years.

She won twice on the Learmonth circuit and last year maintained her dominance on the out-and-back course of the Avenue of Honour from Lake Wendouree to Burrumbeet.

david.brehaut@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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