Hepburn leads Orica GreenEdge podium in Australian TT champs, Wardlaw takes women’s title
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hepburn leads Orica GreenEdge podium in Australian TT champs, Wardlaw takes women’s title

by VeloNation Press at 8:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, National Championships
Kerby and Crooks take under 23 gold medals

Cycling AustraliaGetting its national championship campaign off to a superb start, the riders from the Orica GreenEdge team took gold, silver and bronze in the Australian TT champs today. Michael Hepburn defeated Luke Durbridge, the winner in 2012 and 2013, by eleven seconds, while Damien Howson was two minutes and six seconds back but took bronze.

One of the pre-race favourites, Rohan Dennis, was hit by a what observers described as a mini tornado and crashed out.

Hepburn admitted that winning the 45 kilometre solo race was a surprise, but described it as the perfect start to his year.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think about winning,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever beaten Luke in a time-trial, [but] I felt like I was on a good one.

“I knew at the half-way check point that I was a little bit down on Luke and I just tried to come home strong and luckily that was enough.

“It was in the back of my mind to do a good ride here, but I was thinking more along the lines of a podium than the win,” he continued. “Given the quality of the field and the fact that some of these guys have much better TT results than me, winning wasn’t something I expected. I have only won one prologue before, so it’s very special for me to get the win.”

Durbridge won the time trial title in 2012 and 2013, and also won the road race last year. He took stage three of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic on Saturday, then withdrew prior to Sunday’s stage due to a throat infection.

There were questions about whether or not he would compete in the time trial but he made clear earlier this week that he expected to be okay to ride.

However, rather than suggest the weekend illness might have been a factor, he instead said the difference between gold and silver was down to Hepburn’s storming ride.

“I obviously wanted to take the triple, but it just wasn’t to be,” said Durbridge. “You can only do what you can do with the legs you have on the day. Heppy is one of my best friends and a great time trialist, and I’m really happy for him.

“I still had a good ride. I gave it everything, and I thought it would be enough. But obviously Heppy was on a super ride today, and I’m really proud of him taking the win here.”

He said that he heard that Dennis had problems during the race, with his withdrawal removing a key rival. “I was aware that Rohan had had an issue, and that changed things in my head a bit because he was one of the big favourites,” he said. “We needed a bit more information on timing.

“I knew I was thirty seconds up on Heppy at halfway, but I had no idea where he was after that. He was obviously closing in quickly, but I didn’t have any information, so I just rode as hard as I could to the line and hoped it would be enough. I wasn’t resting on my laurels.”

As for Howson, the reigning world, Oceania and national under 23 time trial champion said he was satisfied with his showing.

“I’m pretty happy to be on the podium and to share it with two teammates at my first race with Orica GreenEdge,” he said. “I’m very happy with the bronze medal today.

“I haven’t ridden a race since the world championships so I wasn’t too sure where the form was at.

“Hopefully next year I can come back bigger and stronger and take it to the two mates I shared the podium with today.”

Directeur sportif Matt Wilson said taking the top three places was ‘fantastic’ for the team. “A clean sweep of the podium doesn’t happen very often,” he enthused. “We knew it was a possibility, but we didn’t expect it.

“Heppy getting the win is the big surprise today. But he has targeted this race and he’s a multiple World Champion on the track, so he knows how to come up at the right time for an event. He’s done an incredible ride today.

“Durbo is a bit disappointed not to get the win. He also did a great ride, but Heppy just rode out of his skin today. To put so much time into a time trialist like Durbo over 22 kilometres, Heppy was just extraordinary.”

Hepburn will now have the right to wear the national champion’s colours for the next year. That will be hugely motivating for him in races against the clock, and will also increase his profile and visibility.

“Taking this jersey to Europe for the season was one of the first things I thought about,” he said. “It’s a great feeling know that I get to wear the green and gold this season. I’m really hopeful that this will give me the confidence I need to target more time trial wins going forward. Hopefully this is a sign of some good things to come for me this year.”

However he and the team aren’t just satisfied with the time trial crown. The road race comes on Sunday and the team will attempt to continue the run of success started by Simon Gerrans in 2012 and continued last year by Durbridge.

“This win definitely gives me a lot of confidence ahead of Sunday, but that course doesn’t suit me,” said Hepburn, who will dedicate himself to his team-mates. “I don’t go uphill so well. But after today I know I’m in great form and that I’ll be able to feature in the first half of the race where I can really work hard for my teammates.

“We’ve got so many guys that could do well, although I’m not harbouring any individual aspirations.”

Wardlaw surprises favourites with superb ride, Kerby takes U23 men’s title:

In the women’s event, Felicity Wardlaw (Bicycle Superstore) defeated some well-known names to win the elite title. She covered the 28 kilometre course in 38 minutes 46 seconds, defeating Shara Gillow (Queensland) by 32 seconds and Bridie O’Donnell (Victoria) by 37.

The 36 year old rider works full time and explained that she had to structure her day around that to get into the necessary condition.

“I’ve done so much work for this and it’s just an awesome reward,” she said. “I’ve been trying to hold down a full-time job and train morning and night. At 36 years of age you often question and think is it time to hang up the shoes but it’s moments like this that are just surreal.”

Gillow had been trying to notch up what would have been the first ever four consecutive titles, but had to make do with silver.

“It’s a little bit disappointing,” she admitted. “But I am just back after being off the bike for two weeks with a bout of pneumonia, so to come here and get second today…I was pretty happy with that.

“All credit to Felicity - she did a really, really good job and I’m really happy for her. I’m happy to get silver.”

Wardlaw said that she suffered a lot to take the title, but that it was worth it. “I was hurting so much out there, there is so much doubt that comes into your mind,” she said. “I’ve really learnt over the last twelve months how to block out all that pain out and just move that pain from the legs to the finish line.”

Jenelle Crooks (Queensland) was best of the under 23 women, notching up a time of 41 minutes 56.21 seconds and beating Emily Roper and Jessica Allen.

Meanwhile Drapac rider Jonathan Kerby beat South Australia’s Harry Carpenter by just two tenths of a second to win the Under 23 men’s title.

The latter’s SASI Cycling team-mate Miles Scotson was third, fourteen seconds back.

“I’m absolutely overwhelmed,” said Kerby after the race, which was also held over 28 kilometres. “The support from the team was phenomenal, it was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. We put a target on the time trial and everything went to plan and we got it.

“I focused on it last year as well and things didn’t really go to plan. I ended up fourth, but this time round I really, really wanted it.

“I was digging deep the whole way, giving it absolutely everything on the line with nothing left in the tank.”

Given the tiny margin between gold and silver, keeping the pressure on all the way was absolutely crucial to his success.

“I knew I was up on him [Carpenter] on the way out so from then on I just give it everything you can on the way back,” he said. “Sometimes it works in your favour and you win by 0.2 and sometimes you lose by 0.2. It came my way today.”

Kerby won the under 23 road race title last year and is gunning to repeat on Saturday. He knows that taking the time trial will mean the task will be more difficult, but his form is very good and he’ll give it his best.

“I’m going in as the defending champion so I’m definitely going to be marked. I’m going to do everything I can [to win] on the day,” he said.

Australian national time trial championships, Burrumbeet:

Elite men:

1, Michael Hepburn (QLD) 45 kilometres in 56 mins 25 secs
2, Luke Durbridge (WA) at 11 secs
3, Damien Howson (SA) at 2 mins 6 secs
4, Ben Dyball (NSW) at 2 mins 35 secs
5, William Clarke (TAS) at 2 mins 51 secs
6, Timothy Roe (SA) at 3 mins 11 secs
7, Marc Williams (ACT) at 4 mins 1 sec
8, Matthew Clark (VIC) at 4 mins 17 secs
9, Jack Anderson (QLD) at 4 mins 28 secs
10, Jacob Kauffmann (NSW) at 4 mins 40 secs
11, Nicholas Squillari (VIC) at 4 mins 57 secs
12, Aaron Donnelly (NSW) at 5 mins secs
13, Michael Cupitt (ACT) at 5 mins 4 secs
14, michael Gallagher (VIC) at 5 mins 5 secs
15, Rhys Gillett (VIC) at 5 mins 8 secs

Elite/U23 women:

1, Felicity Wardlaw (VIC) 28 kilometres in 38 mins 46 secs
2, Shara Gillow (QLD) at 32 secs
3, Bridie O’Donnell (VIC) at 37 secs
4, Katrin Garfoot (QLD) at 38 secs
5, Tiffany Cromwell (SA) at 54 secs
6, Gracie Elvin (ACT) at 1 min 2 secs
7, Amanda Spratt (NSW) at 1 min 46 secs
8, Taryn Heather (VIC) at 1 min 53 secs
9, Lauren Kitchen (NSW) at 2 mins 43 secs
10, Louisa Lobigs (QLD) at 2 mins 52 secs
11, Sarah Roy (NSW) at 3 mins 8 secs
12, Jenelle Crooks (QLD) at 3 mins 9 secs
13, Laura Siddall (NSW) at 3 mins 12 secs
14, Emily Roper (QLD) secs
15, Jessica Allen (WA) at 3 mins 47 secs

Under 23 men:

1, Jordan Kerby (QLD) 28 kilometres in 34 mins 56 secs
2, Harry Carpenter (SA) at 1 sec
3, Miles Scotson (SA) at 14 secs
4, Campbell Flakemore (TAS) at 19 secs
5, Samuel Spokes (NSW) at 1 min 5 secs
6, Jack Haig (VIC) at 1 min 19 secs
7, Shaun O’Callaghan (VIC) at 1 min 28 secs
8, Mitchell Lovelock-Fay (ACT) at 1 min 38 secs
9, Jack Beckinsale (NSW) at 1 min 52 secs
10, Oscar Stevenson (VIC) at 2 mins


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