The past two editions of the FedUni Cycling Australia Road National Championships’ elite men’s road race have signalled a generational changing of the guard.
Miles Scotson burst out of the pack two years ago as a 22-year-old to claim the green and gold jersey.
Then last year fellow South Australian Alex Edmondson, 24, stood on top of the podium.
Each had shown themselves to be world class riders in various disciplines, but there was certainly an element of surprise as they conquered the tortorous Buninyong circuit, which has for more than a decade caused the downfall of many top fancies in the nationals.
There is a big chance that the trend of a fresh-faced young gun standing on top of the podium will continue on Sunday.
The line-up suggests this with two-time champion Simon Gerrans (2012 and 2014) retired, the evergreen Richie Porte missing and world champion time trial Rohan Dennis bypassing the event to focus on specialty on Tuesday.
There remains no shortage of experienced campaigners in the 160-strong line-up, such as veteran Mathew Hayman, past champion Luke Durbridge (2013), Cameron Meyer, Damien Howson, Adam Hansen, Michael Hepburn, Nathan Haas and last year’s runner-up Jay McCarthy.
Once again will be a focus on sprinting specialist Caleb Ewan, who is new team colours will have Hansen as a teammate.
Now at 24, the time has surely arrived for Ewan to make a statement in the road race after a fourth last year.
No longer being part of what is always a powerful Mitchelton-Scott line-up at Buninyong will not make it any easier, given the support he has had around him in the past.
On the otherhand, the change might release the pressure valve and give him the freedom to ride without the heat of high team expectations.
Mitchelton-Scott undoubtedly again holds the whip hand, with reigning champion Alex Edmondson carrying the number saddlecloth in the 10-strong line-up, which also includes Ararat’s Lucas Hamilton and Callum Scotson.
Hamilton and Scotson are among those who could be the next big thing on the road in Australian cycling.
Hamilton is coming off an impressive debut year on the UCI WorldTour, while Scotson is moving to the big time after winning the past three national under-23 time trial titles and will undoubtedly be keen to follow in the footsteps of his older brother in the road race. The elite men’s road race starts 12.30pm.