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Gerrans ready for unexpected in road title

AAP logoAAP 7/01/2017 Roger Vaughan

Jack Bobridge's stunning ride last year shows even the best-laid plans might not work for Simon Gerrans at the Australian road cycling championships.

Gerrans is the favourite for the men's elite road race on Sunday and the 36-year-old star is aiming for his third win on the testing Buninyong circuit near Ballarat.

It also might be the last national road title to be decided at Buninyong for a while, amid speculation Cycling Australia could soon announce a new championships venue.

Gerrans will lead an Orica-Scott team that is well down on numbers compared to previous years at the nationals, but big on quality.

Most, if not all, of their six riders have the potential to win, depending on how the 183.6km race unfolds.

But Bobridge showed a year ago that the hilly 10km Buninyong circuit can be full of surprises.

The two-time Olympic track silver medallist launched a stunning solo charge halfway through the race and managed to stay away until the finish, for his second win at Buninyong.

"When he went out there and started chugging away mostly on his own we thought, 'he is going to come back any stage now'," Gerrans said.

"And he just kept out there and stayed out there all day.

"Learning from that situation, we probably wouldn't give any group with a major threat like a guy Jack as much of an advantage.

"Saying that, we didn't see Jack Bobridge as a huge threat."

There are plenty of candidates again this year to defy Orica-Scott's strength, with riders such as Adam Hansen and Nathan Haas in the field.

Nathan Earle's big solo attack in the criterium championship showed he has come to the nationals with strong form, while Cameron Meyer is a dark horse as he makes a comeback in the sport.

But Gerrans remains the No.1 contender, with the all-rounder finally free of the injuries stemming from the shocking run of crashes that plagued him over the last two years.

"I'm confident going into this year because we have a great group of guys in the team, I'm really happy with my training," he said.

"I'm fit, healthy, injury-free and that's just a great way to start the season."

The elite women will race over 102km from 8am (AEDT) and the men will start at 12.15pm, with the temperature forecast to reach the mid-30s.

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