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Queensland's Robbie McEwen (Lotto- Adecco) today claimed the Australian Men's Road Race Championship Title in Ballarat after out-sprinting Nathan O'Neill (QLD, Ceramiche-Panaria) in a two man break away.
120 riders set off at 11am for 18 laps of a testing 10km circuit which contained 3km of climbing and several fast descents. The field contained the cream of Australian riders as well as several international professionals.
The action got under way on the second lap when Nathan O'Neill who had just won the Individual Time Trial Championships on Friday opened up a 30 second break on the peloton. Stuart O'Grady (SA, Credit Agricole) was noticeable at the front of the peloton chasing down the break as the field of riders remained intact.
The tempo really lifted in the third lap as a two man break of Nathan Clarke (TAS) and Kristin Lewis(SA) set a blistering pace of 16'29 for the lap to put almost 40 seconds into the chasing peloton. Riders began to be shelled from the race at an increasing rate. Former champion Jeremy Hunt (GBR, BigMat) and several of the SBR boys where seen at the front working to bring the break back.
The break was caught on the fourth lap as the tempo was temporarily dropped allowing another larger break to get clear. This break containing Rory Sutherland (ACT), Russell Downing (GBr), Robbie McEwen (QLD), Robert Tighello (VIC), Nathan Clarke (QLD) and Kristan Lewis (SA). The break only had a 12 second lead up the climb past the feed station but it contained most of the form riders of the day who would go on to feature in the Championships.
The tempo was again lifted on the fifth lap causing many more riders to retire as Nathan O'Neill and Michael Rogers (ACT) quickly opened up a 40 second break with McEwen in hot pursuit. A spectator was seen offering McEwen a cold Crown Lager, but McEwen only had eyes for the champagne!
The sixth lap saw the two escapees joined by Peter Dawson (WA) and the trio quickly opened up a large gap to the peloton. The lead had blown out to 2'38 by the eighth lap with McEwen again attempting to bridge by himself. Sensing the race was beginning to slip away the peloton reacted with iteamNOVA.com leading the diminished field in an attempt to close down the break, in the hope of getting former Australian Champ Allan Iacuone back onto the podium. ITeamNOVA.com team leader David McKenzie was a late scratching from the race due to injuries sustained while out training with the team.
The ninth lap was again a fast lap (15'50) and saw our three man break still away with McEwen still on the hunt looking to bridge the gap alone. The leaders however where riding at a great tempo and eventually Dawson found the pace too high and was dropped. By the start of the tenth lap O'Neill and Rogers where 3'06 up the road and it appeared the race was over for the rest of the field.
The eleventh lap however saw the remaining field get shattered as the peloton picked up the pace with Cadel Evans (VIC, Mapei) attacking up the climb and shelling riders along the way. Only 35 remained in the race. Coburg's Andrew Ward who was sitting comfortably in the bunch had to abandon due to cramping in his legs and lower back. Nonetheless it was a strong ride by Andrew who was hospitalised last week following a crash whilst racing.
Rogers began to tire and came back to the field, leaving O'Neill out on his own. Eventually McEwen bridged the gap and the two riders continued working together. The pursuing bunch got the break down to within 1'30 but when McEwen and O'Neill got the bell lap it was clear that the winner would come from either of the Queenslanders. O'Neill led McEwen out down the finishing straight only to be past by the former Tour De France stage winner, who claimed his second Australian title in two weeks, following his Criterium championship title won at Geelong during the Bay Series which McEwen also won.
Robert Tighello beat Patrick Jonker (SA, BigMat) for third. 21 year old Simon Gerrans'(NSW) fifth place was enough to secure him the Under 23 Australian Road title, in a race that only saw 24 riders complete.
McEwen paid tribute to O'Neill who has spent close to 150km of the race at the front only to be pipped by the faster finishing rider. The first three place getters, and in fact many of the other riders are heading straight to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under. McEwen has his eyes set on the Tour De France, while O'Neill is looking forward to the Milan San Remo.
Report courtesy of Coburg Cycling Club.
1 Robbie McEwen (Qld) Lotto-Adecco 4.46.18 2 Nathan O'Neill (Qld) Ceramiche-Panaria 3 Robert Tighello (Vic) 1.31 4 Patrick Jonker (SA) BigMat 5 Simon Gerrans (NSW) 3.06 6 Allan Iacuone (Vic) iteamNova.com 3.18 7 Tom Leaper (Vic) Navigators 4.14 8 Stuart O'Grady (SA) Credit Agricole 4.33 9 Cadel Evans (Vic) Mapei 10 Ben Brooks (NSW) 11 Mathew Hayman (ACT) Rabobank 12 Paul Redenbach (NSW) 13 Russell Downing (GBr) iteamNova.com 14 Adrian Laidler (SA) 15 Scott Sunderland (NSW) team Fakta 16 Jason Phillips (Qld) 8.23 17 Nick Gates (NSW) 18 Alan Davis (Qld) Mapei 19 Hilton McMurdo (WA) 20 Leon Vogels (WA) 21 David McPartland (NSW) 22 Cameron Hughes (Qld) 23 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) 24 Klayten Smith (NSW) 14.03
1 Steve Williams (NSW) 75 Christopher Green (ACT) 2 Stuart O'Grady (SA) 76 Guy Green (Vic) 3 Henk Vogels (WA) 77 James Hannam (Vic) 4 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) 78 David Harrigan (NSW) 5 Jamie Drew (Vic) 79 Matthew Heath (Vic) 6 Robbie McEwen (Qld) 80 Brendan Higgins (NSW) 7 David McKenzie (Vic) 81 Cameron Hughes (Qld) 8 Nathan O'Neill (Qld) 82 Simon Hurren (Vic) 9 Peter Rogers (ACT) 83 Cameron Jennings (Qld) 10 Sean Sullivan (Tas) 84 Dean Johnstone (Vic) 11 Scott Sunderland (NSW) 85 Markus Kammerman (Swi) 12 Cadel Evans (Vic) 86 Paul Kenny (Vic) 13 Robert Tighello (Vic) 87 Nick Kiraly (Vic) 14 Russell Van Hout (SA) 88 Adrian Laidler (SA) 15 Matt Wilson (Vic) 89 Andrew Lang (Vic) 16 Mark Renshaw (NSW) 90 Jesse Lawler (USA) 17 David Pell (Vic) 91 Jade Lean (SA) 18 Peter Milostic (NSW) 92 Kristin Lewis (SA) 19 Graeme Miller (NZl) 93 Rob Licciaardo (Vic) 20 Caleb Manion (Tas) 94 Daniel Mackey (WA) 21 Tom Leaper (Vic) 95 Craig Mackie (Qld) 22 Nathan Clarke (Tas) 96 Kevin Margetson (NSW) 23 Peter Dawson (WA) 97 Craig McCartney (Vic) 24 Hilton Clarke (Vic) 98 Paul McDonald (NSW) 25 Brad Davidson (Vic) 99 Bruce McIntosh (Vic) 26 Ben Day (Qld) 100 David McPartland (NSW) 27 Trent Wilson (NSW) 101 Enzo Melloni (Ita) 28 Brett Lancaster (Vic) 102 Tim Morley (Qld) 29 Patrick Jonker (SA) 103 Jarrod Moroni (Vic) 30 Ashley Humbert (NSW) 104 Dennis Mungoven (ACT) 31 Matthew Hayman (ACT) 105 Warren Nelson (Vic) 32 Ben Brooks (NSW) 106 Terry Nightingale (Qld) 33 Graeme Brown (NSW) 107 Phillip Orr (Vic) 34 Allan Davis (Qld) 108 Cain Pasque (Vic) 35 Nick Gates (NSW) 109 Dominique Perras (Can) 36 Allan Iacuone (Vic) 110 Trent Perry (Vic) 37 Hilton McMurdo (WA) 111 Jaaron Poad (NZl) 38 Jason Phillips (Qld) 112 Kevin Poulton (NSW) 39 Michael Rogers (ACT) 113 Luke Preston (Vic) 40 Steve Aitken (Tas) 114 Adam Pyke (Vic) 41 Ashley Baines (Vic) 115 Justin Quinton (NSW) 42 Gene Bates (SA) 116 Paul Redenbach (Vic) 43 Daniel Bellis (Vic) 117 Mark Roland (Qld) 44 Darren Benson (NSW) 118 Brendan Rowbotham (Vic) 45 Stephen Blackburn (ACT) 119 Daniel Rutherford (NSW) 46 Nathan Blackman (NSW) 120 Adrian Sansonetti (Vic) 47 Lincoln Brown (Vic) 121 Steven Sansonetti (Vic) 48 Nic Brown (WA) 122 Brendan Shipp (NSW) 49 Tomas Buchacek (Cze) 123 Allan Sieper (ACT) 50 Tim Buchanan (ACT) 124 Klayten Smith (NSW) 51 Bradley Bullock (Vic) 125 Kristjan Snorrason (Vic) 52 Damian Burke (Vic) 126 Ric Steele (WA) 53 Brett Cahir (Vic) 127 Cody Stevenson (NSW) 54 Cameron Carlyle (Vic) 128 Luke Stockwell (Qld) 55 Christopher Carr (Vic) 129 Bernard Sulzberger (Tas) 56 Adam Cashman (NSW) 130 Rory Sutherland (ACT) 57 Brendan Cato (NSW) 131 Noel Tanner (Vic) 58 Anthony Challinor (NSW) 132 James Taylor (Vic) 59 Phil Chapman (NSW) 133 Christopher Teakle (Vic) 60 Matthew Chessum (Vic) 134 Martin Tobin (Vic) 61 Matthew Conn (Tas) 135 Michael Tolhurst (ACT) 62 Geoff Cooke (NSW) 136 Andrew Torney (Vic) 63 Jon Coulter (Qld) 137 Jon Townsend (Vic) 64 Stephen Cunningham (SA) 138 Peter Trigar (Vic) 65 Aaron Dalton (Vic) 139 Ray Turner (Vic) 66 Jonathan Davis (NSW) 140 Leon Vogels (WA) 67 Jon Den Braber (Ned) 141 Simon Walker (Vic) 68 Russell Downing (GBr) 142 Andrew Ward (NZl) 69 Bart Duraj (Qld) 143 Richard Wearne (SA) 70 Paul Forrest (NSW) 144 Jeff Wheeler (SA) 71 Justin Freitag (Qld) 145 Tim Wilson (Vic) 72 Domenic Gatto (Vic) 146 Robert Young (Vic) 73 Troy Glennan (NSW) 147 Diego Zanardo (Ita) 74 Lee Godfrey (Vic)