Gerrans grabs Australian title ahead of Lloyd and Porte
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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Gerrans grabs Australian title ahead of Lloyd and Porte

by Shane Stokes at 12:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, National Championships
 
First victory for men’s GreenEdge team

Simon GerransDelivering on the victory he said he was hoping for in a long pre-race interview, Simon Gerrans blasted home in a three-man sprint to take the Australian road race championship in Buninyong earlier today.

The 31 year old GreenEdge rider was clearly strongest in the gallop against Victoria's Matthew Lloyd (Lampre - ISD) and the Tasmanian Richie Porte (Team Sky), opening up a big gap when he kicked for home.

“This is such an honour, it is far and above one of my proudest moments in cycling and to now (I get to) be crowned Australian champion for the next twelve months, and to be able to wear the green and gold through all the big races in Europe,” he said.

“I just capped off some great team work from GreenEdge today, I am so proud of all of the guys.”

After what was a very fast, aggressive race on a tough 10.2 kilometre circuit, Gerrans and Lloyd got clear on the final climb of Mt Buninyong. They opened a good lead over the others behind but, after several kilometres chasing, Porte managed to get across.

Both he and Lloyd knew that Gerrans was the quickest finisher and they did what they could to get clear but, after taking third last year, the determined GreenEdge rider was not to be denied.

“I have done a lot of hard work over the past couple of months to start the season in good shape, so that's why it is such a thrill that all that hard work has paid off with a win.”

Lloyd won the race four years ago and might be excused to be disappointed to go so close without the win. However he’s been through a very tough 2011 season, and his runner-up slot can be regarded as a major triumph for him.

After being fired by his Omega Pharma Lotto team, he’ll race for Lampre ISD this year and is clearly back in very good shape.

“About 600 metres out, I thought 'I've got to go' and I made the attempt,” said the 28 year old climber. “I know we're not fantastic sprinters, you'll never see me sprint fast in my life. And I knew Simon would be following me and once he went, he was way too strong.

“I was mega-stoked for Simon, and Richie,” he added, graciously. “It's a race that's very special and I'm humbled to come second to him (Gerrans), because he's a brilliant bike rider. The jersey, once you've got it you can never be taken away and was beautiful to see.”

Richie PorteLike Lloyd, Porte has switched teams for 2012 and will compete with the Sky Procycling squad after two years with Saxo Bank SunGard. He too looks to be in fine form, and can look forward to a strong season ahead.

“At the end of the day, I was told to back myself, and maybe I did, well I did lead it out up that back climb,” he recounted. “I knew I was never going to be as punchy as Simon and Lloydy at the finish and I think it was probably the slowest sprint for second place ever.

“But to end up third, I was happy with that. It's a much better start to my year than (previously).”

The former Giro d’Italia leader finished fourth four years ago and has now got a podium place to his credit. He’s still got a chance to win the Australian champion’s jersey, though, as the race against the clock beckons. He’s one of the country’s best in that discipline, and his ride today showed that he could be on course for gold.

“My team was incredible, but I guess we had quality, not quantity,” he said. “Hats off to GreenEDGE. “I have trained specifically for the time trial, so now I need to recover and come out swinging on Tuesday.”

Gerrans has already done that, and can now continue is buildup for what could be a very big Santos Tour Down Under for the 2006 race winner.

Big guns firing:

As predicted beforehand by many, the 163.2 kilometre race was a very aggressive affair. GreenEdge had sixteen riders in the lineup and were determined to take the first-ever win for the men’s team. They would ride hard to achieve that goal, while other squads who were aware of their numerical advantage were looking for opportunities to break the stranglehold.

The course was a tough one, with each 10.2 kilometre lap beginning with the 3.1 kilometre Mount Buninyong Road climb. This plus the repeated attacking whittled the main field down constantly. It meant that only 21 riders would go on to complete the race, the withdrawal of 119 showing how tough it was.

Surprisingly, defending road champion Jack Bobridge attacked very early on rather than saving his strength for later in the race. He went clear from the drop of the flag with GreenEdge team-mate Luke Durbridge and Garmin-Cervélo’s Nathan Haas, opened a lead of over 30 seconds and remained ahead for two laps.

Soon after their recapture, one of GreenEdge’s experienced veterans Stuart O’Grady clipped away and combined with Will Clarke (Champion System) to open a decent lead. Pat Shaw (Genesys Wealth Advisors) bridged and worked with them to stay clear. Behind, the race was exploding.

Several others bridged across after the halfway point, with Durbridge there plus Porte and Gerrans, 2011 Tour Down Under winner Cameron Meyer, GreenEdge team-mate Leigh Howard and others. Behind, riders such as Matt Goss (GreenEdge) withdrew.

Inside the final 90 kilometres, a group got clear with Clarke, Durbridge, Meyer, Mark Renshaw (Rabobank), Pat Shaw (Genesys), Matt Wilson and Wes Sulzberger (both GreenEdge) and Bernard Sulzberger (Raleigh). They combined to open their lead, with two big chase groups trying to get across. The regrouping eventually did happen, but not before Meyer and Wilson clipped away 62 kilometres from the line.

The latter was dropped by Meyer some five kilometres later, with the lone leader opening a lead of over two minutes. Heinrich Haussler tried to get across and would do so, despite being marked by Durbridge. However the effort proved less successful than he had hoped as the chasers behind got across to him, Durbridge and Meyer.

The regrouping happened two and a half laps from the finish; almost immediately, O’Grady and Mathew Hayman (Sky Procycling) attacked but were hauled back several kilometres later.

Heading towards the final lap, Lloyd attacked and was joined by Gerrans and Porte. Bernard Sulzberger got across as did Chris Sutton (Sky Procycling), but there was once again a regrouping heading for the bell. Lloyd was feeling good and attacked again on the climb; Gerrans got up to him and, several kilometres later, Porte also got across.

They jostled for position between there and the finish, Lloyd and Porte trying to get clear of the others, but there was no denying Gerrans his long-awaited national champion’s jersey.

“The way the race unfolded didn't really go to plan, but it went to plan that I won it,” he explained. “I was going to try and save as much as I could for the last few laps of the race, but as it turned out, the race was blown to pieces after about 50 kilometres.

“Then with a couple of laps to go, Cameron Meyer was out the front but ran out of gas, and it became an even playing field as we had the same amount of guys at the front as a lot of other teams. It was pretty much every team for itself and we lost our advantage.”

Despite that, he ensured that he was in the move. Ending up with two non-sprinters was a boost, particularly when he revealed afterwards that he had thought the bridging Sky rider was the fast-finisher CJ Sutton.

That would have complicated things considerably but, fortunately for him, it wasn’t the rider he anticipated. “It was only about five hundred metres before the line when I realised that it was Richie Porte, so I was a little less worried knowing it was him,” he said. “Coming to the finish after a long tough race like that one with a time triallist and a climber, I knew I had a bit of a kick on me to finish off a race like that. So I was confident coming to the line.”

Clarke (fifth) and Bernard Sulzberger (tenth) missed out on the medals but also got a big reward for their efforts. They were confirmed after the race as being the choice for the UniSA-Australia national team to compete in the Santos Tour Down Under, which begins in just over a week’s time.

Before then, the Australian time trial championships will be held on Tuesday.


Also see: Simon Gerrans feature interview - aiming for the national title


Mars Cycling Australia road race championships:

Elite men:


1, Simon Gerrans (Vic) 163.2 kilometres in 4 hours 7 mins 38
2, Matthew Lloyd (Vic) at 2 secs
3, Richie Porte (Tas) same time
4, Adam Hansen (QLD) at 1 min 5 secs
5, William Clarke (Tas) at 1 min 9 secs
6, Steele Von Hoff (Vic) at 1 min 11 secs
7, Christopher Sutton (NSW)
8, Baden Cooke (Vic)
9, Anthony Giacoppo (WA)
10, Bernard Sulzberger (Tas)
11, Daniel McConnell (Vic)
12, Mark O'brien (Vic) all same time
13, Ben Dyball (NSW) at 1 min 17 secs
14, Zakkari Dempster (Vic) at 1 min 37 secs
15, Luke Roberts (SA) same time
16, Jay Bourke (Vic) at 1 min 38 secs
17, Michael Rogers (Act) same time
18, Mathew Hayman (NSW) at 3 mins 24 secs
19, Jai Crawford (Tas) at 6 mins 28 secs
20, Neil Van Der Ploeg (Vic) at 11 mins 32 secs
21, Jason Spencer (Vic) same time

Mountains: Gerrans

Sprints: Clarke

DNF:

Jack Bobridge (SA)
Cameron Meyer (WA)
Jonathan Cantwell (QLD)
Matthew Goss (Tas)
Robbie McEwen (QLD)
Stuart O'Grady (O/S)
Matt Wilson (Vic)
Travis Meyer (WA)
Allan Davis (QLD)
Heinrich Haussler (NSW)
Michael Matthews (Act)
Mark Renshaw (NSW)
Nathan Haas (Act)
Simon Clarke (Vic)
Luke Durbridge (WA)
Leigh Howard (Vic)
Chris Jongewaard (SA)
Joel Pearson (Vic)
Patrick Shaw (Vic)
Wesley Sulzberger (O/S)
Johnnie Walker (Vic)
Chris Jory (NSW)
Josh Collingwood (Vic)
Dean Windsor (NSW)
Michael Hepburn (QLD)
Mitchell Docker (Vic)
Darren Rolfe (QLD)
Damien Turner (Vic)
Nicholas SAnderson (Vic)
Andrew Roe (SA)
Richard Lang (NSW)
Phillip Grenfell (NSW)
Jonathan Lovelock (Vic)
Brodie Talbot (NSW)
Benjamin Johnson (Vic)
SAmuel Rix (Vic)
Correy Edmed (QLD)
Nick Bensley (Vic)
Jacob Kauffmann (NSW)
Adnane Benhammouche (SA)
Matthew Warner-Smith (NSW)
David Pell (Vic)
Luke Aggett (Vic)
Andrew Arundel (Act)
Andrew Blair (NSW)
Etienne Blumstein-Jones (Act)
Nicholas Brain (NSW)
Cal Britten (Vic)
Hayden Brooks (QLD)
Fabio Calabria (Act)
Joshua Carlson (NSW)
Kel Chaffey-Jones (Vic)
Jason Chalker (Act)
Dane Crawford (NSW)
Andrew Crawley (NSW)
Conan Daley (Vic)
Anthony Dimotrovski (NSW)
Benjamin Douglas (Vic)
Peter English (Vic)
Sean Finning (Vic)
Joel Finucane (NSW)
Mitchell Flynn (Act)
Travis Frisby (SA)
John Groves (Vic)
James Henry (Vic)
James Hepburn (QLD)
Adrian Jackson (Vic)
Mark Jamesion (QLD)
Kris Johnston (Act)
Caleb Jones (NSW)
Brenton Kaitler (Vic)
John Kent (Vic)
Jason Kruger (Vic)
Peter Ladd (Vic)
Darren Lapthorne (Vic)
William Lind (NSW)
Jake Magee (NSW)
James Mcdulling (NSW)
Johnathan Millington (NSW)
Nicholas Mitchell (Vic)
Justin Morris (NSW)
Jamie Nightingale (Vic)
Lachlan Norris (Vic)
Travers Nuttall (Vic)
Ryan Obst (SA)
Chris Pescott (Vic)
Cameron Peterson (NSW)
Oliver Phillips (Vic)
Rhys Pollock (NSW)
James Quinton (Act)
Jeremy Ross (Act)
Malcolm Rudolph (QLD)
Sam Rutherford (NSW)
Graham Rutter (NSW)
Dean SAnfilippo (Vic)
Dale Scarfe (NSW)
Adam Semple (WA)
Stuart Shaw (Act)
Peter Smith (Vic)
Michael Smith (Tas)
Alexander Smyth (Vic)
Nicholas Squillari (Vic)
Reece Stephens (Vic)
Sam Stow (Vic)
Tomas Szollosi (QLD)
Peter Thompson (QLD)
Adam Trewin (Vic)
Michael Troy (NSW)
Paul Van Der Ploeg (Vic)
Steven Waite (Vic)
Will Wettenhall (Vic)
Edward White (NSW)
Graeme Brown (WA)
Shaun Mccarthy (Vic)
Marc Williams (Act)
Blair Windsor (NSW)
Sam Witmitz (Vic)
Tony Gaudry (Act)
Simon Bennett (Vic)

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