Criterium racing is simple on paper - you ride around a circuit a dozen times and hold on for dear life.
The infamous Sturt Street course, right in the middle of Ballarat's historic buildings and with a massive crowd, adds an extra dimension of difficulty.
The Lydiard Street corner is a bugbear for even the most professional cyclists, with a sharp drop into a tight corner causing several speed demons to crash out with the slightest drop in concentration.
READ MORE: Time trial highlights from day one
This was most evident in last year's inaugural fixed-gear race, in which riders without gears - or much else - flung themselves into the corner at an extreme speed to build momentum for the climb back to the Dawson Street finish line.
Thankfully for the fixie riders, the course has been changed to flatten it out somewhat, with Friday's racing beginning with a loop up Lyons Street North and a hook at Armstrong Street, but the other categories will still need to keep a tight racing line.
It's dizzying watching the elites take on the course, especially as the end of the race draws closer and the enthusiastic crowd gets louder.
The elite and under 23 women will cap off the day's racing for the first time, and the competition will be fierce, as young riders and track sprinting stars take on the seasoned veterans.
Rebecca Wiasak took the elite women's crown for the second year in a row in 2019 firmly establish herself as one of Australia's cycling greats, despite a difficult 12 months beforehand.
RoadNats race director Scott McGrory said she was going to be one to watch on Friday night.
"She's a rider that missed out on the Commonwealth Games, that took her out of contention for the Olympics, but we're proud of how she's forged ahead - she's out of the national track program but she found a place for herself and continues to get better at crit racing," he said.
"I personally congratulate her on keeping her chin up, it shows great character."
He cautioned she will be under attack from some of Australia's best track cyclists, who thrive on the furious short course.
Similarly, Brenton Jones is aiming to defend his elite men's title.
Jones was able to make the podium in 2017 and 2018 before finally claiming the title last year.
He's since had a huge year overseas, experiencing all the highs and lows - from crashes in Europe to winning in China.
But it was finally conquering Sturt Street that was a special highlight.
"It's something I've been trying to win and achieve my entire cycling career," he said.
"That feeling, the first 24 hours after, an emotional high, it's a lot of hard work that's paid off.
"To win the national title, it stays with you the rest of your life, you're always known as a champion."
This year, the elite men's race - running before the elite and under 23 women's race - is quite an open field, but Jones said he is determined to finish well.
"After competing for many years in Ballarat, I've got an exact training approach, and I'm in a good headspace so I think I'm in for a good race," he said.
"There's a lot of good riders in good form, but I always line up on the track in Ballarat and I'm motivated to win."
McGrory said hyper-competitive crits were always entertainingly unpredictable.
"We saw several years ago, Cam Meyer winning the crit from a solo breakaway, the domestic teams were out the front to chase him down and they couldn't get him - 14 riders, and he rode away," he said.
"It's the individual performances you don't expect to happen, but it can because of the calibre of the riders."
The elite men's and women's races will be livestreamed on the SBS Cycling Central website and Facebook page.
The criteriums begin on Friday at noon with the fixed gear race, followed by the national team crits.
The under 19 men begin at 2.05pm, before the under 19 women at 2.45pm.
The Sturt Street Hill Climb Challenge - open to all - is at 3.20pm, with the under 23 men at 3.55pm.
The elite men take the course at 5pm sharp, followed by the Hill Climb Challenge final.
The elite and under 23 women start at 6.25pm.
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