The Australians always kick the season off with the Nationals. Last year and this year, the Covid-19 has canceled Santos Tour Down Under. My theory is, it limits the amount of WT riders at the start list. We will have the same route as the last four years which makes it easier to predict the outcome.
Nonetheless, BikeExchange Jayco has won three out of the last four editions. However, in 2018 they had nine riders at the start (Edmondson winning). In 2019, they had ten riders at the start line but bottled it at the finish with Freiberg taking the win. In 2020, they had eight riders at the start. It was a big solo win for Meyer that year. Last year, in 2021, they had six riders at the start line with Meyer taking another win. This year, they do not have the same width within the team. They have three riders at the start line, Cameron Meyer, Callum Scotson, and Luke Durbridge. This will change the dynamics of the race. They will either have to animate the race or control it. Given the riders, they line up with I think their big engines will animate it.
Not the steepest or longest climb, but after doing it fifteen times it can be tough. The wind will also play a factor. You are able to benefit from drafting if we have a headwind.
A very sunny day with degrees up to 29 degrees Celcius. The wind will blow from the west/southwest with 3 m/s.
This gives the riders a tailwind and a cross tailwind on Mount Buninyong, which in theory should make the race more selective.
The contenders are written by Andy Logan as his knowledge when it comes to Australian cyclist far exceed mine. My perspective is that a writer with a strong set of TT skills will win the race, which has been the case the last five out of six times.
A very open edition of the 2022 Australian Road Race Elite Men’s National Champs greets us this year, with the World Tour teams bringing less numbers, it means the onus is on the Australian Domestic teams to do the chasing. I think the race is going to be very unpredictable and we might even see a winner from the breakaway. Without a doubt, the 2022 edition is a tough one to predict.
So who are the main contenders for the race? Let’s get into it.
Has won the race the last two years on the bounce and I can understand why Bookies have him as a favorite. Always brings great form into the race and knows how to win here. Last year he was dropped on the penultimate lap, but Durbo brought it all back for him. This time BEX doesn’t have the numbers they typically have but brings two strong options. Personally, I would like to see someone else win it. But you know for a fact he will be in the mix to win the race. Very short at bookies ~ $4-$4.50 ish, so a bit short me for.
Ultra consistent in the TT the “King of January” has won this before and was absolutely selfless last year in how he brought the race back last year. Maybe this will be his year? His TT was strong, so he clearly has good legs, just beaten by a flying Rohan Dennis. He will be in the mix on the final laps for sure and the circuit really suits him. His pricing is a bit less prohibitive compared to Myers.
Stunning TT win last year, but went too early in hindsight last year and should have held on a lap or two more. The big question mark with Plapp is that he has been a COVID-19 close contact and has been in isolation. He didn’t start the TT and you have to question his preparation based on that, less than ideal. He would need to go solo as he has no teammates with him to win. That being said is a talent, so we might see something special. Very short at the books, which given his prep, I am intending on swerving myself.
No current form to go on, but was strong last year until feeding cost him (his UAE Tour Result showed he had good legs) this year he has Dennis to support him and the course suits him really nicely. Has been on the podium here previously in 2019 and Top 10 twice in addition to that as well, a nice little record for sure. Didn’t do the TT, which is unusual for him, so I suspect he has been focused entirely on the road race. I also know he has been out in Adelaide training the house down and a friend of mine who was down there at Christmas saw him out training and said he was looking very lean. I think the benefit of having Dennis in the race with him will really help. A very strong chance to win.
What a ride in the TT, absolutely blitzed the field, smashed Plapp’s time from last year by 30s which was ultra-quick and was basically a whole kph quicker than Durbo. Has not raced the RR for a long time, but pointed out in a CyclingNews interview that he was looking to be in the mix in the final and would like to win it as well, I think he is a strong chance based on his form.
Riding on his own again, he will need a lot to go right for him to win the race and would need to win solo as well. I like Hamo, he has come close for me on a number of occasions at big prices e.g. 300/1. Hamo used to be coached by my coach and I know he is a strong rider, so if he is on form then he will be there in the finish. Last year was a much better year for him, with a number of strong results in GT Stages, which is where he seems most at home, coming close twice in the Vuelta and 2nd on Stage 12 in the Giro. His best result has been 6th but hasn’t raced here for 2 years now due to COVID.
Didn’t get a WT contract for this year, so has signed with Bridgelane, so has the benefit of having a team of 8 with him for the race. 6th last year was his best result as a solo rider, this time around there is the depth that he can rely on. Injury interrupted season last year for him, he would be very keen to get his time at Bridgelane off to a good start and this could be the perfect way to do it.
Team Bridgelane bring a number of strong options to the race, with Whelan in the mix as well as Nick White. He won the U23’s race in 2019 beating a young lad that I have ridden and raced with a number of times called Michael Potter. White was 4th last year and he will benefit from the big squad that Bridgelane bring to the race, although he is priced short enough. Knows what it takes and will be in the mix.
InformTMX Make are also a strong domestic team, although no Plapp this year. Mark is always strong around Nationals although I did question his move last year in crossing the break to Plapp and bring some BEX riders with him. Anyway, look for O’Brien to be in the mix towards the end. I think he will need a lot of luck as well to win the race, but that being said, I think it will be an unpredictable race, so we will see.
Brendon “Trekky” Johnston
Won the NRS in 2020 and is a weapon on the bike. He has been doing some ultra-specific prep for Nationals, with repeats up Black Mountain in Canberra, doing over/unders, and also training for that big drive over the top of the climb, which is often where we see moves going. Don’t be surprised if you see him still in contention as we hit the final lap, he would be my dark horse pick for the race at a somewhat decent price.
Other names worth a mention: Dylan Sunderland, does not have a contract for this year. Cyrus Monk, almost a certainty for the break. Ben Dyball, ultra-talented but never quite seems to bring it together. Nathan Earle, Dyball’s teammate, ex Team Sky and has been as high as 4th here and finally Cam Ivory, who won the Crit in emphatic style last night.
As you can see it’s an open race and hard to make a definitive prediction, we have seen riders win from the early breakaway previously like Michael Frieberg as well as solo wins and small bunch kicks as well.
Personally, I have backed Dennis (@9), Whelan (@13) and Johnston (@41) + (E/W) to win.
Who will win?
I’m going with Rohan Dennis. While Jumbo-Visma may come in shorthanded when it comes to riders, they do have the strongest rider in the peloton. I think the characteristics of this race have shown that a big engine is often more important than a punch or a strong sprint which is why we rarely have seen sprinters win on this route. Rohan Dennis to kick the season off with a bang in new colors.