• Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships (Kathryn Watt)Source: Kathryn Watt
Orica-GreenEDGE and the Orica-AIS women have stark reminders from last year that nothing is guaranteed at the Australian road cycling championships.

10 Jan 2016 - 6:11 AM 

Their depth of talent mean they will be the centres of attention in the men's and women's elite road races at Buninyong, near Ballarat.

Simon Gerrans and Caleb Ewan are the two main Orica-GreenEDGE riders for the 183km men's event in the afternoon, while teammate Luke Durbridge has also won at Buninyong.

Along with Rachel Neylan, who was runner-up to Peta Mullens last year, Orica-AIS also boast Gracie Elvin and Amanda Spratt as past champions.

But last year also showed that weight of numbers and talent does not guarantee success at the nationals.

Heinrich Haussler (IAM), who will not defend his title, was basically on his own when he beat Ewan in the men's race.

Likewise, Mullens (Wiggle High5)  and Neylan did not have strong support on the way to deciding the women's title between them.

Neylan has since joined Orica-AIS and is rapt to be part of the team, but knows they have to be on their guard.

"I can give my teammates a little bit of info on what it's like to be on the outside and how motivated those girls are," she said.

Likewise, Gerrans has won at Buninyong and will be the No.1 rider for Orica-GreenEDGE after his horror season last year.

A series of crashes derailed his 2015 campaign and he is determined to start this year well.

But BMC pair Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis lead a group of big-name riders who could usurp the Orica-GreenEDGE balance of power.

Former GreenEDGE rider Simon Clarke (Cannondale), Steele Von Hoff (ONE Pro), Jack Bobridge (Trek Factory Racing) Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) plus Dimension Data's Nathan Haas and Cameron Meyer are among other riders with legitimate claims.

All those riders either are on WorldTour teams or have that experience.

Porte also noted that the domestic Avanti team is in strong form.

"Obviously Simon wants it, that's what we hear," Porte said. "Also Caleb, last year was quite surprising that he got to the finish.

"It's a bit silly to just get caught up with GreenEDGE, Jack Bobridge looks good and the Avanti guys.

"Maybe it's time to see that happen again, all the favourites are looking at each other and someone slips under the radar."