Bendigo cyclist Chris Hamilton heads to Adelaide for next week's Tour Down Under full of confidence.
The 22-year-old Team Sunweb rider finished sixth behind winner Alex Edmondson in Sunday's national road race championship in Ballarat.
"I went into the race with open expectations. It wasn't so much of a target race for me this year because the team's focus for me is to be good at Tour Down Under.
"I had a different approach going into the race, but at the end of the day everyone wants to win their national title.
"I was really happy with the way I went. It's good for the confidence to know that I can mix it with the best."
Hamilton, who made his grand tour debut in 2017 at the Vuelta a España, will be one of Team Sunweb's leading chances at the Tour Down Under.
He finished 14th in general classification two years ago and is confident he has the legs to ride well again this year.
"I'm really happy with my form and how quickly I came back from my off-season,'' Hamilton said.
"Training has been really good and everything is on track.
"I like the conditions and the course over there and it's always interesting to see how the European guys handle the weather because we always have at least one 40 degree day."
Hamilton said Team Sunweb was well placed to push for Tour Down Under honours.
"(Dutchman) Sam Oomen will be our main general classification rider and I'll be first support for him.
"(Germany's) Niki Arndt won the Cadel Evans race last year, Phil Bauhaus is another good sprinter.
"(Dutcman) Mike Teunissen is riding, we have a new Australian Michael Storer and American Chad Haga will also ride."
It's been a tough few weeks for Hamilton following the tragic passing of good friend Jason Lowndes.
Hamilton and Lowndes were room-mates in Girona in Spain last year.
Hamilton will return to Girona following the Australian summer.
"It's going to be different. It's going to take some adjusting to,'' Hamilton admitted of life in Girona without Lowndes.
"I have a lot of good friends over there and there's a lot of Australians there that are always willing to help out.
"We have a good network of people over there, so that will make things easier."
The Tour Down Under starts on January 16.