National Championships

Fighting it out for a National jersey is always hard, everyone wants it, but being the first race of the season (for most riders) makes it even tougher. 

Having raced the Mitchelton Wines Bay Cycling Classic a few days prior, I was hoping for a good result come the Criterium National Championships, knowing that my sprint and intensity had hit the right targets. 

This year’s elite field consisted of past winners, strong NRS teams, along with WT outfit Orica-GreenEdge and a strong representation from Drapac Professional Cycling.

The 44km race on a large hot-dog style circuit was brutal, featuring an uphill drag on the finish straight and a fast downhill slope on the back. 

An aggressive approach was what we’d planned for and from the opening laps, our boys were lighting it up off the front. 

Orica-GreenEdge was content to ride the breakaways back, controlling the race with the powerful lead-out train for Caleb Ewan. 

I was feeling pretty good, sitting comfortable in the bunch and very relaxed, a lot more than I usually am.

My teammates where still attacking the race, burying themselves to cause some damage and disrupt the other teams. 

We had ridden a great race, but a sprint was all-but confirmed as the last few laps drew closer. 

Guided through by the Drapac boys and my final lead-out man Greame Brown, I was up near the front for the sprint. Caleb got a great lead-out and I came from a few wheels back out of the last corner, sprinting to second with Caleb taking the win.

Of course it’s disappointing when you don’t win, but Caleb is riding really well and second was a good result. The boys did a great job and a podium at the National Championships isn’t a bad performance.

The best thing I can do, is accept the result and be content with the great start to the year I’ve had, consistent describes it well. There are some big races this year and my goal for 2016 is UCI stage wins. Success is just around the corner!

Following on from the Criterium and the Time-Trial National championships, the Road Race around the infamous Buninyong circuit in Ballarat was going to be a hard fought race, with the tough 10km circuit including a 2.5km climb each lap just waiting to sort out the field.

The 18 lap race was a battle of attrition for the eventual leaders, with the breakaway establishing after just one lap. We were represented by two riders in Bernie Sulzberger and Tim Roe, both of whom where aiming to make the breakaway, so it was a good start for us.

Feeling good in the opening laps, I was waiting to do my job and cause some damage to the race, which began on lap 6.

Leading up the climb, Graeme Brown did a huge turn, which I continued to the top, stretching out the field and inflicting some hurt on the other riders. Although only a small effort, it was something that would cause discomfort to our main rivals.

I struggled to recover from that effort, but helped teammate Trav Meyer to rejoin to the main field, after a crash two laps later. 

My race may have been over in the early stages, but my teammates and I had done our jobs and it was up to our lead riders for today, to hold on and get a result. 

After 11 laps, the field was down to 30 riders, with 130 starting the race. 

The select leading group eventually caught most of the breakaway riders, with Bernie Sulzberger off the front with Jack Bobridge.

We had Adam Phelan, Lachlan Norris, Sam Spokes, Nathan Earle and Brendan Canty still in the leading bunch, so to get those guys there and in with a chance in the closing laps was a good achievement for the team.

Jack Bobridge was riding strongly, too good for the rest and riding away with the championship. Orica-GreenEdge was on the front to chase him down but it was too late and they were hardly reducing his lead. 

Jack went on to take an impressive victory with Cam Meyer a respectable second after a two lap solo chase.

Our boys were holding on as best they could with Brendan Canty and Sam Spokes the two remaining Drapac riders to make the final selection, fighting it our for fourth place after Pat Lane attacked solo with two laps to go, to finish in third place.

Sam Spokes finished in 7th, a good result on the challenging circuit, with Brendan not far behind in 11th with the leading group. Tim Roe had an impressive ride also, finishing a respectable 14th. Only 15 riders finished this year’s race, so I guess that speaks for itself. 

Nationals done and dusted, the team now focuses on the Tour Down Under and the Tour de San Luis. I will be lining up in the Tour Down Under, a race that I’ve seen many times as a spectator, but my first as a rider.


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