Steele von Hoff won the elite men’s criterium in spectacular fashion at the 2014 Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Ballarat last night.
Von Hoff, who helped former teammate Anthony Giacoppo to criterium victory in 2012, was today rewarded with a green and gold jersey for himself.
“To finally win the national champs on home soil is a really good omen for the rest of the year for me,” von Hoff said. “I’ve done well in the criterium’s in Australia but I’ve never got the breakthrough win until now.”
Von Hoff, 26, outsprinted teammates and former champion Giacoppo and recent Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic winner Brenton Jones for the victory.
Yesterday’s race was thrown into disarray when team Drapac riders Robbie Hucker, Adam Phelan and Jonathan Cantwell crashed in the final lap.
“Up the back straight they went for it and Drapac had a mishap up the top corner and a few of them came down,” von Hoff explained.
Giacoppo seized the opportunity, launching an attack down the back straight with Jones and von Hoff fast on his wheel.
“I used to be on the Avanti cycling team so I know how strong they are so I just had to pick that train,” Von Hoff explained. “You’ve just got to take advantage of that stuff.”
“I got the wheel of Brenton Jones and then AJ in the finish. I just kicked off him and he still ran second so it was fantastic.”
The win is a big achievement for the World Tour Rider who this year will be the team’s lead sprinter at the Tour Down Under.
“I didn’t have the year that I wanted last year so hopefully this will start the ball rolling for this year.”
“I am a confidence rider and when I get a few bad results I start to beat down on myself, but then to get a win it just boosts everything.”
The 44 kilometer race saw aggressive riding from the outset – with plenty of attacks and failed breakaway attempts by defending champion, Cameron Meyer and riders from teams Avanti, Budget Forklifts and Drapac Pro Cycling.
Elite Men: 44km criterium, Ballarat
1 Steele VON HOFF (VIC) 1hr 55sec 2 Anthony GIACOPPO (WA) 0:00:023 Brenton JONES (VIC) 4 Cameron MEYER (WA) 0:00:04 5 Michael FITZGERALD (WA) 6 Rico ROGERS (VIC) 7 Neil VAN DER PLOEG (VIC) 8 Allan DAVIS (QLD) 9 Craig HUTTON (NSW) 10 Darren LAPTHORNE (VIC) 0:00:08
Sarah Roy won the elite women’s race – after after beating Peta Mullens and Lauren Kitchen in a sprint finish.
The trio narrowly avoided a crash in the final straight that saw pre-race favorite Annette Edmondson taken out.
“It’s so exciting, I don’t think I’ve ever won a race in Australia before,” exclaimed Roy who in 2013 was a part of an Australian development team which lead her to victory in Belgium.
“You have to back yourself but you can’t be too cocky, I just knew I would give it 100% and that’s what I did.”
In addition, last evening race saw two other big name favorites, Gracie Elvin and Chloe Hosking, fall victim to crashes early on in the 33 kilometer criterium.
“I didn’t see but I have heard Nettie and Chloe are down and I really hope they are ok, my heart goes out to them, it’s never good to crash at such high speeds like that.”
Despite Elvin’s early departure from the race, her teammates Jessie Maclean and Carlee Taylor continued to work hard – by keeping a fast tempo and forcing their rivals to try and stay onboard with them.
“It was really well controlled by Carlee Taylor, she’s a really great workhorse and an excellent teammate and so was Jesse Mclean who was attacking her guts out as she always does for Nettie Edmondson.
“It wasn’t easy.”
Roy will contest the women’s road race on Saturday – January 11th.
“I don’t know if you’ve seen the size of me but I don’t think I’ll be contesting the road race,” joked Roy.
“I’ll be out there and giving it 100% but I’m not silly I know that course is not suited to me.
“I’ll just soak this up while I can.”
Elite Women: 33km Criterium, Ballarat
1 Sarah ROY (NSW) 52hr 55min 2 Peta MULLENS (VIC) 3 Lauren KITCHEN (NSW) 4 Lizzie WILLIAMS (VIC) 5 Chloe MCCONVILLE (VIC) 6 Emily ROPER (QLD) 7 Jessica HUSTON (WA) 8 Rebecca MACKEY (WA) 0:00:03 9 Kristy GLOVER (VIC) 0:00:05 10 Jessica MUNDY (SA)
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