BALLARAT – Australian road cycling championships boss John Craven has warned against ”blocking” tactics in the weekend’s bumper races, warning riders face disqualification.

Technically, the men’s and women’s elite road races at the national titles are individual events and collusion is banned.

But road racing is essentially a team sport and the new Australian GreenEDGE squad will have a massive presence in today’s 102 kilometre race for women and the men’s elite 162km race tomorrow.

There will be much smaller teams outside the men’s GreenEDGE team and the women’s GreenEDGE-AIS squad and riders will clearly form alliances in a bid to combat the new ”super team”.

GreenEDGE will have 16 entries in the men’s elite field of about 150.

GreenEDGE’s presence adds an intriguing new element and Craven predicts the men’s event will be one of the best road races in Australian cycling history.

”It’s the responsibility of the chief commissaire and his deputies to make sure the race is run fairly and with integrity,” race director Craven said.

`”Any unfair tactics, such as blocking, will, I am sure, be dealt with severely.”

Craven said it was practically impossible to stop riders working with each other, regardless of whether they were wearing the same jersey.

”It’s more than a grey area – in a lot of cases, it’s an unidentifiable area,” he said.

But some of Australia’s top commissaires, including chief judge Peter Tomlinson, will be in charge of the weekend’s road races and Craven strongly backed their ability to officiate properly.

The biggest potential concern for Craven is blocking, where riders impede opponents who are trying to chase down a break.

”I have absolute confidence in the commissaire’s panel to deal with any situation as it arises and they will do it with commonsense and integrity,” he said.

New GreenEDGE recruit Alexis Rhodes will defend her national road race title today, two days after winning her fourth national criterium championship.

It was her first race since surgery last July, but she blasted away from the field for an outstanding solo win.

”Obviously there’s a bit of form there,” she said.

”Defending champion, everyone is going to be watching me and I did show my cards on Thursday, which wasn’t really part of the plan.

”The good thing is, while I may or may not win it, I have some pretty good teammates.”

The men’s under-23 122.4km road race will start at 9.30am today, followed by the women’s event from 1.30pm.

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