AN eighth crack at the Road National Championships will begin for Bathurst cyclist Craig Hutton on Wednesday when he journeys once again to the familiar streets of Ballarat.
Hutton, along with fellow Bathurst club riders Josh Corcoran and Will Hodges, will take on Australia’s top cycling talent over the next five days.
GPM Stulz are celebrating their 10-year anniversary and the Bathurst trio will hope to deliver their team a prize for the occasion.
Hutton will be on the most experienced riders in the team’s elite men’s squad, who begin their campaign in Wednesday evening’s 44 kilometre criterium.
Corcoran makes the step up to under 23s for the first time where he’ll ride alongside Cowra local Hodges.
Hutton is hopeful he can make an impact at the nationals, even though a new season of racing means it’s difficult to know how his team will stack up compared to the rest.
“It’s hard to judge at this time of year because we’re not racing against each other over the New Year and Christmas break. I’m feeling good though, and feeling confident. I know I’ve done the work,” he said.
“For the elite race there’s probably three of us who could go really well. There’s myself, Joel Walsh and Cam Ivory. We’ve got a three-pronged attack there.
“Cam’s trained for the Commonwealth Games on the mountain bike. He’s got good form. Joel’s a really fast finisher and I’ve finished well in the criterium there in the past.
“I’ll be the captain on the road, telling the guys what they need to be doing, but if it comes down to that bunch finish then it’s probably going to be Joel since he’s the fastest out of us.”
Hutton was absent from last year’s nationals but teammates Ivory (seventh) and Walsh (13th) made strong impressions in the criterium.
Hutton said Corcoran and Hodges will take a lot away from the nationals.
“This is Josh’s first under 23s race so he’s there to learn and get some experience,” he said.
“Will’s done it a couple of times now and he’ll be the support role I’d say for someone else, but I’d say he’d also be in with a good shot.”