Reigning champions return, Porte confident in BMC ahead of Road Nats

Reigning Road National Champions Miles Scotson and Katrin Garfoot will return to defend their respective titles in January.

Scotson will be part of a star-studded BMC Racing team as 2015 time trial champion and dual road medalist Richie Porte, dual reigning time trial champion Rohan Dennis and dual road race champion Simon Gerrans make the trip to Ballarat.

The household names headline what is set to be a stellar field for the FedUni Road National Championships, which starts on January 3.

Porte, who finished fifth in the 2016 Tour de France general classification, was confident BMC had the riders to win the team event and believed any one of the four men was capable of taking out the championship.

“It will be nice to go into the road race with numbers,” Porte told Cycling Australia Media.

“With the numbers that we have, four strong guys, I believe we have the guys to do it (win).

“If its not me, to have someone of the calibre of Simon come and join the team in 2018, Rohan is always up for a good fight and Miles showed last year he could do it.”

STAR POWER: Richie Porte crosses the line in the first stage of July's Tour de France. The 32-year-old will race the roads of Ballarat in January. Picture: AAP Photo/Christophe Ena

STAR POWER: Richie Porte crosses the line in the first stage of July's Tour de France. The 32-year-old will race the roads of Ballarat in January. Picture: AAP Photo/Christophe Ena

Meanwhile, Garfoot, who has moved to team QAS, is expecting fierce competition as she looks to go back-to-back. Adding to the already hotly-contested Nationals was the fact a spot at the Commonwealth Games was also up for grabs.

“Leading into Commonwealth Games, it will be big,” said Garfoot.

“It will be very hard this year to defend the road title because of this, riders want to qualify for the Games.

“I think that I will be well covered in the race and not being part of the Orica team in 2018 means I will have a few more high quality opponents this year.”

The criterium kick-starts the week’s action on Wednesday evening, with Orica-Scott’s reigning champions Caleb Ewan and Jessica Allen returning.

In the time trials, Garfoot and Dennis will both be looking to make it three on the trot, however four-time champion Shara Gillow (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) will be gunning for a record-equaling fifth crown.

REIGNING CHAMPION: Katrin Garfoot rides in last year's Road National Championships time trials. Picture: Kate Healy

REIGNING CHAMPION: Katrin Garfoot rides in last year's Road National Championships time trials. Picture: Kate Healy