• The Orica-AIS women dominated at the Bay Crits, a four-day festival viewed as a warm-up for the road nationals (Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic)Source: Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic
The MARS Cycling Australia National Road Championships return to Ballarat and run from 6-10 January. Here are the abbreviated schedule and some of the riders to look out for as titles are decided in the criterium, road and time trial events.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AAP
5 Jan 2016 - 10:28 AM 

Wednesday

Criteriums, Sturt St, Ballarat from 4.30pm.

Men's U23 33km, women's elite and U23 33km, men's elite 44km.

Kimberley Wells has won two of the last three women's titles and is the favourite again, but will face a strong challenge from Sarah Roy and her Orica-AIS team-mates. Bay Classic winner Caleb Ewan and defending champion Steele Von Hoff are the riders to watch in the men's elite race.

Thursday

Individual time trials, Buninyong from 10.30am.

Men's U23 29.3km, women's elite and U23 29.3km, men's elite 40.9km.

Shara Gillow has won four of the last five elite women's titles, but Katrin Garfoot could challenge. Star BMC signing Richie Porte and new team-mate Rohan Dennis, who was runner-up last year, headline the men's elite start list.

@richie_porte: Last ride in @teamsky kit. Had a blast and met some great people. Bring on 2016! 

Friday

Rest day

Saturday

Men's U23 132.6km road race, Buninyong from 1.00pm.

Miles Scotson will defend his title. Other riders to watch include Chris Hamilton, Daniel Fitter and para cycling star Alistair Donohoe.

@miles_scotson Had a dig at bay crits today, opening things up for next week @teambudgetforklifts @illuminatethebik

Sunday

Women's elite and U23 102km road race from 8.00am, men's elite 183.6km road race from 12.00pm, Buninyong.

The women's road race has moved from Saturday in a bid to give it more exposure, meaning a packed Sunday schedule.

Defending champion Peta Mullens will have her work cut out against a super-strong Orica-AIS contingent that includes two-time champion Gracie Elvin and last year's second place finisher, Rachel Neylan.

@gracieelvin: Nothing better than sharing the podium with your kickass team mates! Big thanks to @lizziedizzie83 @saraheroy @chloemc87 and #spratty for four awesome days. Can't wait for Nationals! #OGEFrocks #BayCrits 

Two-time winner Simon Gerrans is determined to start the season well after his nightmare 2015. With riders such as Porte, Dennis, Adam Hansen and Simon Clarke making up a strong men's elite field, the spectating is sure to be as exciting as the racing.

Related reading
Gerrans chomping for MARS Australian road title
Simon Gerrans is focused on a third victory at the MARS Cycling Australia National Road Championships, which start in Ballarat on Wednesday.
Bay Crits titles for Ewan and Elvin
Australian cycling stars Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) showed their class once again in the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic taking the overall titles in the fourth and final stage.