Gerrans outsprints Evans, Porte and Meyer to take second Australian road race championship title
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Gerrans outsprints Evans, Porte and Meyer to take second Australian road race championship title

by VeloNation Press at 6:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, National Championships
Orica GreenEdge rider’s success follows on from his 2012 win plus that of team-mate Durbridge last year

Simon GerransGrabbing the green and gold jersey despite suffering a broken hip in August, Simon Gerrans delivered on his promise to be in strong early-season form when he won his second Australian road race title in three years.

The Orica GreenEdge competitor outsprinted a golden break of Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Richie Porte (Sky) and Camerone Meyer (Orica GreenEdge) at the end of what was a very aggressive 183.6 kilometre race.

Jack Bobridge (Belkin Pro Cycling) and Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) were 23 seconds back, completing the top six.

“It’s a huge honour to be crowned Australian champion again this year,” said Gerrans, celebrating being back in the distinctive jersey. “It makes it even more special with such a classy field this year…it’s the who’s who of Australian cycling.

“To win in front of an Australian crowd like this and for an Australian World Tour team obviously is very, very special,” Gerrans revealed.

Evans is aiming for the Giro d’Italia and the need to be in form earlier this year than others means that he has been working hard in the off-season. He was riding the Australian championships for the first time since 2005 and helped animate what was a great race for the many spectators on the course.

While he sounded lukewarm before the race about the incentive of the Australian champion’s jersey as being a motivator, he was very intent on trying to win the event, as his aggressive performance showed.

However Gerrans is a known faster finisher and, when they reached the finish in the same group, there was only ever likely to be one result.

“I feel as though everyone wants to be in the break without me and then in the final follow me,” said Evans, who was the sole BMC Racing Team rider in the race and thus lacked support. “But today was my best opportunity. I wanted to attack with 150 metres to go but I left it a bit late.

“I just couldn’t accelerate anymore, I exhausted myself a bit too much early on.”

He thanked the spectators for the support they showed to the riders and the atmosphere they generated. “People were out there with their flags and cowbells and whistling, it’s just like a race in Europe. Every year I think it’s a better quality race.”

Porte is also aiming for the Giro d’Italia and the 2013 Paris-Nice winner showed he is in strong form. Like Evans, he is not a natural sprinter and so he accepted the result and Gerran’s victory.

“I’m happy to be on the podium and full credit to Simon,” he said. “When he attacked on the final climb he showed that he was head and shoulders the strongest rider in the race.

“If I had the legs I would have attacked a little bit earlier, but [Gerrans] is certainly in some great form,” Porte explained. “It is great to see so many people out there supporting Cadel and Gerrans and also myself, it is just absolutely brilliant.”

A total of 135 riders lined out for the eighteen laps of the difficult Mount Buninyong circuit, and very early on the attacks started. Four laps into the event a break of seventeen was clear, with strong representation from both Orica GreenEdge and Drapac Pro Cycling.

The latter put a lot of effort in to keeping the group clear but, despite opening a gap of over three minutes, the peloton started making inroads into that lead.

Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge) did a lot of attacking, while Lotto Belisol’s Adam Hansen made big efforts to try to win the event. He later said that he was determined to be Australian champion and that he hoped that his team would sign more Australians before next year’s event, a reference to not having support today.

The new Australian criterium champion Steele Von Hoff (Garmin Sharp) was also aggressive, as was Jack Bobridge. Under the pressure of those riders others started going out the back of the break, whittling down the number ahead of the peloton.

Clarke and namesake Will Clarke (Drapac Pro Cycling) then put the hammer down, further turning the screw on others in the move. Drapac’s Darren Lapthorne jumped clear and after he was brought back, Avanti’s Mark O’Brien played his card. However the race came back together with a lap to go.

After David Tanner (Belkin) got across to Meyer, some other key riders got close to them. Gerrans pushed ahead on the final King of the Mountains, going clear alone, but Evans bridged across. Meyer and Porte also made it up front, with the former jumping away to put the pressure on team-mate Gerrans’ rivals.

He was brought back and lost five seconds in the finale, while the other three scrapped it out for gold.

“I wanted the guys to set a fast pace to keep it together going into the bottom section of the climb, so that I could attack towards the top,” Gerrans said, explaining the tactics. “There was already quite a small, select group left by the time we got to the last ramp of the climb, and there was some foxing going on.

“Cam had slipped off the front a little bit, and then I attacked in the final few hundred metres of the climb to really try to get rid of the other contenders. We got over one by one: myself,then Cadel, then Cam, then Richie. Over the top, the four of us came together again, and that’s how it stayed until the finish.

“The guys did exactly what they had to do today. I stuck to my guns in the finish - I knew I had good legs and as long as that little group stayed together I was confident I could finish it off. Cam fully committed. He really rode his guts out for me today. I’m sure he would have liked the chance to win himself today, but the plan was to work for me and he did that 100 percent. The whole team gave it everything for me today and I’m really grateful for that.”

He, Evans, Porte, Meyer and others will now continue their buildup for the season, with the People’s Choice Classic next Sunday and then the Santos Tour Down Under the next races on their programmes.

Given the form they showed today, each must be considered a contender for the WorldTour event. Looking further ahead, Gerrans will be fully committed to trying to win Milan-Sanremo again, while Evans and Porte will be fixated on fighting for pink in the Giro d’Italia.

Australian road race championships, Buninyong:

Elite men’s road race:

1, Simon Gerrans (VIC) 183.6 kilometres in 4 hours 43 mins 43 secs
2, Cadel Evans (VIC)
3, Richie Porte (TAS)
4, Cameron Meyer (WA) at 5 secs
5, Jack Bobridge (SA) at 23 secs
6, Darren Lapthorne (VIC) same time
7, Mark O'Brien (VIC) at 29 secs
8, Steele von Hoff (VIC) at 48 secs
9, Zakkari Dempster (VIC)
10, David Tanner (VIC)
11, Travis Meyer (WA)
12, Nathan Earle (TAS)
13, Adam Hansen (QLD) all same time
14, William Clarke (TAS) at 1 min 27 secs
15, Wesley Sulzberger (TAS)
16, Bernard Sulzberger (TAS) both same time
17, Timothy Roe (SA) at 2 mins 29 secs
18, Lachlan Norris (VIC) same time
19, Simon Clarke (VIC) at 3 mins 7 secs
20, Neil Van Der Ploeg (VIC) at 3 mins 14 secs
21, Eric Sheppard (VIC)
22, Marc Williams (ACT)
23, Nathan Elliott (VIC)
24, Samuel Davis (WA)
25, Michael Fitzgerald (WA)
26, Robbie Hucker (VIC)
27, Mathew Hayman (ACT) all same time
28, Ben Dyball (NSW) at 4 mins 24 secs
29, Chris Jory (NSW) at 5 mins 50 secs
30, Joshua Prete (QLD) at 7 mins 52 secs


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