WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHEN DOES IT START:
Today is the big day when the best in the nation do battle on Mount Buninyong.
Amanda Spratt has shown her class in the women's event by sprinting to the finish ahead of Justine Barrow.
The pair along with third place rider Grace Brown lead the field for much of the day in a hard fought breakaway on the mountain course
In the unde r23 category Jamie Gunning took out the honur followed by last year's overall winner Sarah Gigante Ruby .
The Elite men's event is underway with 16 laps of the course expected to finish shortly before 5pm.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO WATCH: Anywhere up the climb is good, but be sure to make your way back to the finish line for the end of the race.
After an exhilarating finish to the 2019 Road Race National Championship, all eyes will again be locked on Buninyong over the weekend.
Michael Freiberg won the tight race, taking home the title for the first time in his career ahead of past podium finishers Chris Harper and Cameron Meyer.
Harper, who has now finished on the podium in each of the past two years (second in 2019, third in 2018) is hoping 2020 will be the year which sees him reach the mountain-top.
"(Winning) would mean a lot to me," he said.
"Especially as this is my first year in the world tour, it'd be nice to be able to represent the national jersey in European events."
Harper says he is feeling good coming into the event, however knows because of the unpredictability of the race it will come down to who performs best on the day.
"I had a break quite early in the year and that gave me plenty of time to get prepared for this.
"I feel like I'm travelling really well so I'm excited to see how I go and to use that as a bit of a guideline for where me form's at going into the Tour Down Under.
"It never hurts to have a bit of luck on your side and be at the right place at the right time... a lot of it ultimately boils down to having the legs and having done the work leading up to it."
The biggest thing to watch going into the event according to Harper is how the Michelton Scott team, which features premier riders such as Cameron Meyer and Luke Durbridge, chooses to ride.
"I think the biggest thing for everyone will be what Mitchelton Scott is doing on the track... they can dictate the racing really.
"They can run their own break but also kill any break that's out there with the strength and depth of their squad."
Gigante forced to go it alone after teammate injury
After preparing to defend her Women's Elite Road Race championship with a fellow champion by her side, Sarah Gigante will now have to ride as an individual following an unfortunate crash.
Less than a week out from Nationals, Gigante's Team Tibsco-Silicon Valley Bank teammate Shannon Malseed suffered a fractured scapula after a crash at the second stage of the Bay Crits in Geelong on Saturday.
Gigante said she was devastated for Malseed, who won the Road Race in 2018.
"She's a huge loss to our team and especially for nationals," she said.
"I was looking forward to having her by my side and working towards getting one of us the win."
The reigning champion told The Courier Malseed's injury will only motivate her further in her quest for a second consecutive National Championship.
"I'll have to go in and race much more individually than I would have hoped but Shannon's given me lots of tips already and I'll take confidence from the time we've spent together.
"There's definitely extra motivation, I really feel bad for her not being able to race, it's my favourite event of the year and I know I'd be shattered if I couldn't ride. If I can do my best and make her proud that'd be amazing."
The 19-year-old know's she can't relay on being an unknown like she was last year, but believes she is a lot stronger that she was going into the 2019 event.
"I'll just go in with an open mind and see how it plays out. I think I'm a bit stronger than I was last year which gives me a bit more confidence but I know anyone can win and it's a super hard course."
Malseed, who remains in good spirits, says her injury will only be a small bump in the road as she looks to move forward.
"I've got a fractured scapula in a few places, which is the main source of pain for me and will take a while to heal, but at this stage no surgery is required," she said.
"It'll be a little bump in the road for the start of my season but I have such a great support network around me, I'm sure I'll get taken care of better than I can imagine.
"I can't thank everyone enough for all their well wishes."
Brothers aim to bring home more silverware
After a dream one-two finish for Bendigo brothers Patrick and Sam Eddy in the Under 19 Road Race in 2019, the siblings are looking for more silverware in 2020.
Patrick, 17, will defend his title in both the Under 19 Road Race and Time Trail events while Sam, 18, will test himself as he moves up into the Under 23 category.
Sam is hoping he can come into the event as a relative unknown and pull out a surprising victory.
"I definitely think if I can tick all the boxes throughout the day looking after myself I'm capable of being up there in the finish," he said.
"I'm a bit of a small fish in a big pond so I'm hoping I may be able to sneak in unnoticed."
Patrick on the other-hand is simply looking to continue his hot form and win his second consecutive Road Race National Championship.
"I'll obviously have a bit of a target on my back this year so I'm anticipating having to race a bit differently," he said.
"The main thing that's going to change is how I strategically race on the day... that's been a bit of a shift but I've got to do what we need to.
"I think it'd be pretty special to win it's obviously going to take a massive effort but I'm confident."
Ashby flying the Ballarat flag in para-events
For the second straight year, para-athletes are set to ride basically the same course as the other cyclists competing at the National Championships.
Ballarat's own Christian Ashby will be aiming to finish of the podium in his category once again after picking up a pair of third place finishes in the Road race and Time Trial.
After competing in his first National Championship last year, Ashby says he is coming into the 2020 event a lot better prepared, thanks in part to training with former cyclist Pat Shaw.
"Pat has been working with me and has really helped me in being able to ride a much more strategic race," he said.
"Last year I came in and kind of just attacked the race not knowing much, but now I know the right ways to go about what I need to do to achieve my goals."
Ashby added after going through everything he has since his injury, improving from his third place and potentially winning a National Title would mean a lot.
"Being able to just get back on the bike has meant so much to me. If I could improve on last year, let alone actually come away with a National Championship, that would mean a lot to me."
Sewell looking to prove her spot on top
After taking home gold in controversial fashion in the Under 19 Women's Road Race in 2019, Francesca Sewell is hoping for slightly less drama as she looks to defend her crown.
In her final sprint to the finish in last year's race, Sewell's chain locked up, causing her to take a nasty crash while Neve Bradbury crossed the line first.
Sewell got up and pushed her bike over the finish line, thinking she has secured second-place.
However race commissaires found Bradbury's bike to be 120g under the required minimum weight of 6.8kg after regulation post-race bike checks, which gave Sewell the first place finish.
Sewell, now a teammate of Bradbury's as part of Roxsolt Attaquer said while she knows there is extra pressure on her coming into the Road Race in 2020, she is just going to focus on riding her race.
Last year was pretty crazy but sometimes stuff like that happens... I'm hoping for a bit less drama this year.Francesca Sewell.
"Obviously I've been training hard, testing myself on plenty of hills and am feeling really strong coming into the event," she said.
"With last year's results there is obviously a little more pressure but I try not to let that get to me and have a good time on the bike.
"If I'm not thinking about the pressure, that will go a long way. I'm just going to rise in a similar fashion to last year... I've just got to keep focused on riding a smart race and rolling when I need to."
Neve Bradbury has chosen not to return to the event, however will be rooting for her sister Isla Bradbury, who will look to improve upon her eighth-place finish in 2019. Third-placed finisher from 2019 Ashlee Jones has also aged out of the event.
Jenner looking to take the next step
Sam Jenner knows what it feels like to cross the line first during the Nationals Road Race.
Having won the under 23 event in 2017, Jenner has been chasing that feeling for the past two years, nearly coming away with another win in 2019 where he finished third in a tight final sprint.
Entering the Elite Men's category, Jenner is hoping his hunger and preparation will lead to victory.
"I'm a bit anxious coming in... it's going to be a big step up," he said.
"The best thing about this is there's not much pressure on me so I've got nothing to lose."
Now a part of Team BridgeLane, Jenner believes working within his team and having numbers around him will play a large role in potential success.
"The main thing is just going to be having numbers around me... it just gives you cards to play and more options on the ride."
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