Three time world time trial champion, Michael Rogers, will return to Australia next Tuesday to contest the Scody Australian Open Road Championships being in Ballarat from January 9th to 13th.
Rogers last raced the Australian Open on the Bunninyong circuit in 2003 when he was the silver medallist behind Queensland's Ben Day in the time trial and eighth in the road race won by Stuart O'Grady. This time his preparation has been in a northern Italian winter where the mercury has struggled to stay above zero degrees Celsius, but he says he's looking forward to challenging for the green and gold jersey of Australian champion.
"Not having raced since September 2007 I can only go on training performance which I'm confident is at a good level," said Rogers, who will race the 2008 season with the ProTour team High Road Sports. "I haven't been able to ride the Nationals in the past few years due to team commitments, so I'm very excited to have the chance to be able compete for the green and gold jersey.
"I'm sure it will be a hotly contested race as the reward means a lot in modern day cycling," said Rogers. "Mind you coming from the European winter I hope the weather isn't as hot as the competition."
Rogers added that he won't contest his pet event, the time trial, in Ballarat, focussing instead on Sunday's elite men's road race. But he hasn't given up on the discipline, and hopes to gain selection for the time trial and road race at the Olympics in Beijing.
"I will concentrate all of my energy on the time trial event in Beijing because after being fourth in Athens I'm very motivated to get the one prize that I'm missing," he said.
The man who defeated Rogers for the Australian TT title in 2003, Ben Day, will be out to reclaim his crown. He is expected to face a strong challenge from Adam Hansen and former Olympic rower Cameron Wurf.
The men's road championship has attracted the stars of Australian cycling. The field will include Graeme Brown, Allan Davis, Simon Gerrans, Matt Goss, Adam Hansen, Matt Hayman, Trent Lowe, Stuart O'Grady, Luke Roberts, Henk Vogels, Will Walker and Matt Wilson, as well as defending champion Darren Lapthorne.
The women's field for the Scody Australian Open Road Championships will also feature a plethora of talent in both the time trial and road race events.
In the time trial, 2006 Commonwealth Games champion and ex-world number one, Oenone Wood, 1992 Olympic Road Champion, Kathy Watt and reigning Olympic road Champion, Sara Carrigan have experience behind them, but 2007 champion Carla Ryan has a title to defend.
Saturday's road race will pit defending champion, Katie Mactier, against the time trial specialists and the likes of Natalie Bates, Nikki Egyed, Rochelle Gilmore, Olivia Gollan, Lorian Graham, Helen Kelly, Jenny Macpherson, Alexis Rhodes and Emma Rickards.
Schedule of events
Wednesday, January 9:
1030 Men's Under 23 Time Trial - 28 kms
1330 Women's Time Trial - 28 kms
(Estimated finish time of last elite women's rider 1445)
Thursday, January 10:
1100 Elite Men's Time Trial - 39 kms
(estimated finish of last rider 1245)
Saturday, January 12:
0930 Scody Men's Under 23 Road Race - 122.4 kms
1330 Scody Women's Road Race - 102 kms
(estimated race duration elite women is 3hrs)
Sunday, January 13:
1100 Scody Elite Men's Road Race - 163.2 kms
(estimated race duration elite men is 4hrs15min)