The 2014 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships was without doubt the best in the history of the event.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Maybe its the afterglow of watching the men's elite road race featuring a world class podium in Simon Gerrans, Cadel Evans and Richie Porte but by my reckoning this year's national championships was the best on record.

In both the men's and women's elite road races we saw a willing peloton of riders keen to make the race on a very demanding course. The depth of Australian cycling on show was astounding and with Drapac now a ProContinental team there is more to come. I can hardly wait for next January in Buninyong.

Even the locally based National Road Series (NRS) riders dug deep to stay with the men's and women's international pros, proving its value as a competition and theirs as true competitors.

Yes, you could say that this was yet another year when the Orica-GreenEDGE/AIS juggernaut took home the majority of the prizes but it was also clear that they had to work a lot harder than ever for the repeat victories by Gracie Elvin and Simon Gerrans.

Elvin and Gerrans earned their victories the hard way, there was pressure applied and both riders responded only as they know how.

Elvin clawed her way back into contention after being dropped and still had the reserves to win a multi-rider sprint at the line.

For Gerrans there was a chance he would not be there to contest the finish, with Orica-GreenEDGE placing its early faith first in the energetic Simon Clarke then later on the classy Cameron Meyer.

With the twin terrors of Cadel Evans and Richie Porte outnumbered but keen to play, Orica-GreenEDGE could easily have lost its head, but the team held its nerve and made all the right choices at exactly the right time, proving that they are one of the best drilled and managed WorldTour teams.

The class of the big time professionals aside, the riders at this years championships who stood out for me were Caleb Ewan, and the winner of the 2013 women's NRS Katrin Garfoot.

There is already a lot said about Ewan but the difficulty for any highly rated young athlete is in the delivery. And that's what makes him such an exciting prospect. He delivers. Two under 23 titles (criterium and road race) as a favourite is testament to his class.

That plus his professional attitude mark him as a can't miss on the WorldTour with Orica-GreenEDGE and I'm looking forward to seeing him line up at the Santos Tour Down Under for the UNI-SA team next week, against some of the best sprinters in the world.

Garfoot on the other hand is an interesting addition to the Australian talent pool. By way of Germany, she, like many women professionals, came into cycling late (she is now 32) but her improvement over the past year is been impressive.

To see her mixing it with seasoned professionals like Elvin, Kitchen, Tiffany Cromwell and Shara Gillow, was interesting to observe. Sharing a podium with two of them gives the women's NRS visibility and credibility.

The passion on display by all the riders was also a highlight for me. If you don't think the green and gold matters, then think again.

Here's Lotto-Belisol's Adam Hansen and Gracie Elvin, who I'll let have the last word.