Simon Gerrans won the 2014 Cycling Australia elite men’s road race in an sprint finale in Buninyong today. Today’s win marked Gerrans second championship victory in the event during the last three years.
“It’s a huge honor to be crowned Australian champion again this year,” beamed Gerrans. “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.
In addition to Gerrans, today’s sprint finale featured some of the race’s biggest names, to include 2011 Tour De France champion Cadel Evans, 2013 Paris-Nice winner Richie Porte and Cameron Meyer.
Indeed, the quartet traded attacks throughout the final few kilometer, with Gerrans proving to be the better tactician – as he ultimately timed his acceleration well enough to out-sprint Evans and Porte on the line.
The final few kilometers saw attacks from Darren Lapthorne and Mark O’Brien, Meyer and team Belkin’s Jack Bobridge. Amidst the confusion, Gerrans seized the opportunity to initiate a breakaway himself.
In doing so, Gerrans subsequently created a small gap on the final ascent up the ‘King of the Mountain’, before being caught by Evans on the descent. Meyer eventually joined them as well, followed by Porte. In turn, Meyer attempted an attack of his own to no avail.
“I knew I had good legs as long as we were all together, I was pretty confident I could win in that scenario,” said Gerrans. “Cameron Meyer fully committed for me today, he rode his guts out there for me so it’s huge thrill to finish it off for the team.
“The plan was always to try and have it together for me in the last lap if the race was anyway under threat. The guys committed to that and brought it back together for me.
“This is a course that works quite well for me. I think it’s a really honest circuit and a great championship site. When you see the guys on the podium today, all three of us are competitive on the world stage,” Gerrans added.
Despite the disadvantage of riding without his BMC team member, Evans was pleased with the result.
“I feel as though everyone wants to be in the break without me and then in the final follow me,” remarked Evans. “But today was my best opportunity and 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,” added the Victorian, who applauded the enthusiastic crowd.
“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,” concluded Evans.
Third placed Porte only had praise for his competitors.
“I’m happy to be on the podium and full credit to Simon,” Porte 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 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.”
135 riders set out on 18 laps of the 10.2 kilometer of the famed Mt Buninyong circuit today, with just a total of 41 finishing the challenging 183 kilometer race.
There was no time wasted in forming the early break – which swelled to 17 riders by lap four – with Drapac and ORICA-GreenEDGE well positioned.
Drapac drove the lead group which achieved a maximum advantage of over three minutes before it was absorbed in the remaining two laps.
Top 25 Finishers
1 Simon Gerrans (VIC) 4:43:43 2 Cadel Evans (VIC) 3 Richie Porte (Tas) 4 Cameron Meyer (WA) 0:05:00 5 Jack Bobridge (SA) 0:00:23 6 Darren Lapthorne (VIC) 7 Mark O’Brien (VIC) 0:00:29 8 Steele von Hoff (VIC) 0:00:48 9 Zakkari Dempster (VIC) 10 David Tanner (VIC) 11 Travis Meyer (WA) 12 Nathan Earle (Tas) 13 Adam Hansen (QLD) 14 William Clarke (Tas) 0:01:27 15 Wesley Sulzberger (Tas) 16 Bernard Sulzberger (Tas) 17 Timothy Roe (SA) 0:02:29 18 Lachlan Norris (VIC) 19 Simon Clarke (VIC) 0:03:07 20 Neil Van Der Ploeg (VIC) 0:03:14 21 Eric Sheppard (VIC) 22 Marc Williams (ACT) 23 Nathan Elliott (VIC) 24 Samuel Davis (WA) 25 Michael Fitzgerald (WA)
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