Gerrans Wins Australian National Road Championships
Earlier today Simon Gerrans was crowned new Australian National Road Champion after taking a dominant victory in the elite men’s road race ahead of Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing) and Richie Porte (Team Sky).
Gerrans sealed the third consecutive title for the GreenEdge team, winning a sprint finish from the final group of four. Cameron Meyer led the select group to the line and ultimately finished in fourth, after working tirelessly to set Gerrans up for the win.
Team GreenEdge looked in control and comfortable throughout the 183.6 kilometer Buninyong circuit, putting each of their ten riders to use in controlling the race. It was defending champion Luke Durbridge who launched the first attack of the day, just moments after the start. The main breakaway of 17 riders quickly formed with Simon Clarke and Mitch Docker joining Durbridge up the road.
“Our plan today was to put the right guys in the break, and that’s what happened with Clarke, Durbridge and Docker up there,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “That put us in the box seat behind. The break was very strong for a lot of the race, but things didn’t really pan out the way we had hoped and we didn’t feel like the situation in front was guaranteed for us. “
Simon Clarke animated the action in the break, making repeated attempts to get away solo over the Mount Buninyong climb. After four hours of fast and aggressive racing, time ran out for Clarke and the break began to disintegrate.
“Clarkey was one of the best in that front group, but there were faster sprinters in the break, so we weren’t willing to go to the line with those blokes still there,” said Sport Director Matt White. “To have a chance at the win, Durbridge and Clarke knew that they had to go solo with two or three laps to go. It didn’t happen, so we decided to go with the safer option and bring things back for Gerro.
“What goes around comes around,” White added. “Everyone gets their chance in this team and we saw that with Durbo last year, but Simon Gerrans is very very reliable.”
With four laps left to race, Team GreenEdge quickly moved to the front and began to reel back the break. An ominously fresh-looking Gerrans was tucked safely in the group. Of the 139 riders that took the start, the chasing peloton had whittled down to 32 ahead of the final two laps.
On the long sloping lead-in to the final ascent of Mount Buninyong, Meyer launched an attack. Gerrans, quickly followed with Evans and Porte in pursuit.
“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,” explained Gerrans. “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