Caleb Ewan remains a red-hot favourite on day one of the Australian road cycling championships, even though he will come in cold.
Cycling Central

3 Jan 2018 - 8:16 AM  UPDATED 3 Jan 2018 - 1:49 PM

Despite unusual circumstances, the 23-year-old will be the rider to beat on Wednesday night in Ballarat at the elite men's criterium.

Ewan is the two-time defending criterium champion and one of the world's top sprinters is confirmed already for his Tour de France debut in July.

"When you've won it twice in a row and you're one of the fastest guys in the world, you have to come away with the national jersey or it's a loss," said Mitchelton-Scott team director Matt Wilson.

The Cycling Australia FedUni Criterium National Championships will be streamed live on theĀ Cycling Central Facebook page. The women start at 6.00 pm AEDT and men at 7:30 pm AEDT, Wednesday 3 January.

Preview: sprinters set to sizzle in Ballarat
Fast, frenetic and loud action kicks off the Australian national road championships on Wednesday evening with the national Criterium championships the first event.

But previously, Ewan has started the year as one of the stars at Victoria's Bay Classic criterium series.

The Bay Classic is on hold this year, depriving Ewan and his sprint rivals of a chance to fine-tune their form ahead of the nationals.

"He'll be confident and ready to go, but certainly that is a factor," Wilson said of Ewan.

"Usually he'd be going into this race with a few wins already under his belt and be really race-ready, super-confident.

"But it's also going to be the same for a lot of guys at the national titles."

Wilson nominated Brenton Jones and Scott Sunderland as Ewan's main rivals in a field that also includes previous criterium winners Steele von Hoff and Anthony Giacoppo.

Landmark broadcast schedule for 2018 FedUni RoadNats
Cycling Australia, in partnership with SBS and FOX SPORTS, is excited to announce a landmark 2018 FedUni Road National Championships broadcast which will deliver live coverage of the elite women's road race for the first time in the event's history.

Another former winner is Ewan's teammate Cameron Meyer, who took out the criterium in 2013 with a daring solo move, and Mitchelton-Scott will boast the strongest team in the race.

Likewise, Mitchelton-Scott rider Jessica Allen is the defending women's champion and they will also field a powerful line-up.

The nationals run until Sunday, when the showpiece elite men's and women's road races will be held at Buninyong, near Ballarat.

While Mitchelton-Scott is the team to watch in the criteriums, they will have fierce competition in the men's road race.

BMC will boast defending champion Miles Scotson, as well as Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis and new recruit Simon Gerrans.

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