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The Australian national road championships started Wednesday in Ballarat, Victoria.
The event opened with men’s and women’s elite time trials, with Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott) and Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB) being crowned champions for 2020. Durbridge edged out Rohan Dennis (Ineos) to defend his title, while in the women’s, 19-year-old Gigante beat defending champion Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott).
The event runs Wednesday through Sunday in the southeast of Australia, despite wildfires raging through the region. The fires have been burning in New South Wales and Victoria for several days, destroying forests and homes through the region.
Cycling Australia had stated Monday that they would be closely monitoring fire dangers through the period of the nationals.
“CA [Cycling Australia] and event organizers have been in regular contact with the CFA [County Fire Sevice], Victoria Police and Ballarat City Council with regards to the risk of bushfire in the region, the air quality situation, and the weather forecast,” read the statement.
“The situation will also be monitored by the Event Control Centre on-site each day of the Championships.”
At present, the remainder of the events are set to go ahead as planned, with elite women and men’s road races take place Sunday, January 12. There is also a mass-participation Gran Fondo event taking place Saturday, with donations being made to the Bushfire Disaster Appeal.
WorldTour-opening races Tour Down Under and Great Ocean Road Race are also set to continue in the Adelaide and Geelong regions later this month. The races are based several hundred miles from the fires, though authorities have stated they will be closely monitoring air quality and other safety issues.