Richie Porte's horrific Tour de France crash means he starts this year just happy to be racing again.
Porte says is unsure how he will perform this week at the Australian road cycling championships and has come to Ballarat with modest goals.
He will be happy with solid racing in Friday's time trial and the road race on Sunday, ahead of his title defence later this month at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide.
Porte suffered a broken pelvis when he crashed out of the July Tour. His only race since has been the October Japan Cup, which he did not finish.
"It's hard to know how my form is when I haven't raced properly in so long," Porte said.
"For both the time trial and the road race, my goal is to get some good racing kilometres in my legs in the lead up to the Tour Down Under.
"Anything more than that is a bonus at this stage."
The scenario could not be more different from 12 months ago when Porte bypassed the nationals and then won the Tour Down Under.
He carried that form into the start of the European season and was one of the main favourites for the Tour de France ahead of the high-speed crash during stage nine.
But Porte's immense talent means he looms as the biggest rival to BMC teammate Rohan Dennis in the time trial.
Dennis has won the last two national titles in the event and is the red-hot favourite, while Porte was the 2015 champion.
Kat Garfoot is also aiming for her third-straight win on Friday in the women's elite time trial.
Like Porte a year ago, Dennis thought about bypassing the nationals but he opted for the extra racing kilometres before the Tour Down Under.
"It will be interesting because I have only just returned back to Australia after spending winter in Europe, so it will depend on how my body copes in the heat," Dennis said.
"My form is as good as any other year."
Usually, GreenEDGE - now known as Mitchelton-Scott - have been the team to watch in Sunday's road race.
But the transfer of Simon Gerrans from Mitchelton-Scott makes BMC the No.1 combination.
Gerrans has won the road race twice, while young teammate Miles Scotson was the surprise winner a year ago.
Combined with Porte and Dennis, they will make a formidable quartet.
Gerrans will be their main hope, but in the right circumstances, any of the four could be a title contender.
A forecast heatwave has forced major changes to Saturday's schedule at the championships.
Organised have cancelled the Gran Fondo amateur race on the Buninyong circuit near Ballarat. About 500 age group competitors had entered the event.
The under-19 men's and women's road races will also start earlier at 6.30am, just after first light and the men's under-23 road race will now be held from 9am, so all competition is over by 11.30.
The temperature is forecast to hit 38 degrees on Saturday, but milder conditions are expected on Sunday for the men's and women's elite road races.