|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
South Bank Grand Prix Cycling - NE
Brisbane, Australia, December 5, 2004
Honeymoon ride for Bundy boy
Bundaberg boy Allan Davis upset an international field winning the South Bank Grand Prix Cycling in difficult conditions. 24 year-old Davis, who married just three weeks ago, will put his prize cheque towards his honeymoon with his wife Andrea.
The win here today has consolidated a strong year for Davis, competing in his first Tour de France, taking fifth place at the World Championships in Italy and winning the Milano-Torino classic. Davis is being touted as the next big thing of Australian cycling and is a product of both the QAS and AIS programs, having signed a three-year deal to ride with the Spanish team Liberty Seguros.
Davis finished fifth on this circuit last year and is obviously suited to the format, but it was a group of five that eventually broke midway into the race and chipped away at their lead to establish the break, leaving the chasing group to fight out 6th to 10th place on a rain-soaked course.
A huge crowd had gathered for the start of the elite race and the many café dwellers were treated to a real spectacle, as a full field of 80 cyclists were sent on their way.
As the riders were warming up, the heavens opened up and didn't relent for the entire race, forcing organisers to reduce the event to 50 mins plus 3 laps, and it was the experienced riders that were heard warning the rest not to do anything stupid.
The opening laps were guarded ones with the huge pack testing the course at pace and finding their line through the corners. Jayson Austin from Robina on the Gold Coast was the first to break from the group and open up a lead, but it was short-lived as just 10 minutes into the event, David Betts slid out on the roundabout at the top of Little Stanley Street, forcing the race to be neutralised. Betts sustained minor injuries returning to the race and a second start to the event got underway.
Austin took the first prime of the day, but more significantly, formed a breakaway group of five that contained the big Kiwi, Jaaron Poad, Allan Davis, last year's winner Mark Roland and Robbie McEwen. Roland and Poad who placed second here in 2002 were very comfortable in the group and the five worked well together.
The all-powerful FDJeux.com team of Brad McGee, Baden Cooke and Matt Wilson were comfortably placed in the chase group and seemed happy to let Matt White head the charge in trying to bridge the gap.
At the halfway mark, the field had been reduced to half due to the tough conditions and for the first time, the peloton came through in single file, indicating the pace had picked up considerably and they had their sights set on bridging the gap. However, the leaders continued to work well together and the chasers were not making up ground, as it increasingly became obviousthey would fight it out for 6th - 10th placings.
As the riders were given the bell for three laps to go, two of the lead group were set to miss out on a podium finish. With two laps remaining, it was the big Kiwi who attacked first with Davis quick to react and this pair finally split the group. McEwen tried desperately to cross over in the back straight, with Roland and Austin unable to match the pace.
In the final lap it came down to a sprint down the straight, with Davis edging out Poad with 50m to go, crossing the line with raised arms. McEwen grabbed the final podium spot with Roland taking fourth from Austin.
Earlier today, the Corporate event was won convincingly by talented triathlete, Kristopher Ridgway, with Stephen Newcomb of Indooroopilly hanging on for second and Val Stupkin of Towong taking third place. Ryan Gittins then took out the C Grade event from peter Flynn and Jeff Liddlell. An elated Jeff Harris won the B Grade event in a powerful display of cycling, with Matthew Ryan placing second and Chris Williams rounding out the top three.
The action and focus now turns to next weekend with the final race at Surfers Paradise. A full weekend of entertainment and cycling has been planned, kicking off with the South Bank to Surfers breakfast ride on Saturday, December 13, followed by breakfast in Cavill Mall. Sunday's program begins at 9am with the Corporate event through to the main race at 1:00pm.
A one hour television program will be screened on the Ten Network nationally early in the new year and will include coverage of both the Surfers Paradise and South Bank events, as well as a short documentary on Athens Olympic gold medallist Brad McGee.
Davis wins soggy Southbank Cycling Grand Prix
Australia's cycling superstars return to the road
By John-Michael Flynn in Brisbane, Australia
He may have finished just outside the medals in the 2004 World Championship road race, but Queenslander Allan Davis wasn't to be denied today,overcoming a stunningly credentialled field to win the Southbank Cycling Grand Prix Criterium in Brisbane, Australia.
Racing in the blue colours of Liberty Seguros, Davis showed why some of the sport's best judges, Erik Zabel among them, are hailing the pocket rocket as one of pro cycling's rapidly emerging sprint stars.
Left behind in the 24 year old Bundaberg rider's vapour trail was a who's who of Australian cycling, most significant among them Tour de France green jersey winners Robbie McEwen (who again rode with distinction) and Baden Cooke. Added to the stellar list were olympic gold medallist Bradley McGee, reigning Australian Road Champion Matt Wilson, Giro D'italia stage winner Cadel Evans and big name pro's Matt White, Nick Gates and Hank Vogels.
None of the above would feature alongside Davis in the rain soaked finale, instead that honour went the way of under-rated New Zealander Jaaron Poad, racing in the orange and black colours of the local Velo Cycles team.
"Jaaron was riding so strong, I couldn't afford to give him a bike length," Davis commented after predictably out-gunning his less credentialled rival in a match sprint on a long finishing straight.
Poad, who modestly claimed post race that he "didn't have what it took to become a pro," is sure to ignite plenty of debate after blasting away most of the big name field with a display tactful tempo riding.
How it unfolded - or should that be downpoured?
In what could have been a potential disaster for race promoters, a sub-tropical downpour arrived just in time for the start of what was originally scheduled to be a sixty minutes plus three laps criterium around Brisbane's Southbank cafe district.
While the cycling faithful could easily have been excused for packing up and going home, most chose to stay, arming themselves with raincoats and umbrellas in what was clearly a tribute to the growing popularity of road cycling in Australia.
For hometown hero Robbie McEwen, who was swamped by well-wishers both pre and post race, the show of support was almost overwhelming.
"Normally in this weather people would just go home," McEwen said while shaking his head in disbelief.
"This is basically the only opportunity we get, this series of races, to race in front of the hometown fans who support us the whole year while we're away."
The race also marked something of a milestone for McEwen's Lotto-Domo team. For the first time, all four Australians who will join the Belgian outfit in 2005 (McEwen, Hank Vogels, Nick Gates & Cadel Evans) were assembled in the one place.
A steady start
With the race reduced to 50 minutes plus three laps, the 75 strong peloton set off at a steady pace.
Recently turned professional David Betts was the first victim of the slippery surface, crashing on lap five but returning to the race, minus a little bark, under neutral conditions.
The major move came 25 minutes in, when a dangerous five man breakaway assembled including McEwen and Davis, last year's Southbank winner Mark Roland, Gold Coaster Jayson Austin and Jaaron Poad.
In a sense it was the ideal breakaway, with each rider motivated to make it succeed.
According to McEwen, who's never short of a word when riders shirk the effort in criteriums, "everyone was working well together."
"Especially Roland and Jaaron Poad who was really strong."
While the conditions weren't ideal for taking risks and chasing down breakaways, the main bunch seemed to lack enthusiasm on the chase, much of the effort left to the boys from FDJeux.com, who themselves were dusting off the cobwebs of an end of season break.
"It's been a good year with the jersey (Australian Road Champion), I'm still enjoying it, my second last race in it today," FDJeux.com's Matt Wilson told Cyclingnews.
"I've had a good break, just getting back into it the past three weeks.
With the FDJeux.com boys eventually choosing to save their effort for next weekend's second race of the Grand Prix series on Queensland's Gold Coast and with McEwen's Lotto team-mates Gates and Vogels keeping the pace as slow as possible on the front of the main bunch, it quickly became clear the breakaway, in one form or another, was destined to succeed.
The decisive race winning move came with two laps to go. Davis and Poad jumping off the front of the breakaway group, McEwen, the Tour de France green jersey holder, unable to bridge the gap.
"I gave it everything to get across," McEwen said in the final washup after claiming third place.
"I didn't have the legs today, I'm carrying a bit of an injury, but good on em (Davis & Poad) they worked hard and deserve the win."
Next stop: the 'Sunny' Gold Coast
Allan Davis's victory in race one of the Grand Prix Criterium Series sets the scene for an enthralling second round next Sunday on Queensland's 'normally sunny' Gold Coast.
In what shapes as a celebration of Australian cycling, several of the high profile professionals will line up for a bunch ride from Brisbane to the Gold Coast the preceding day, before they hit the streets of Surfers Paradise.
While Robbie McEwen will go into the event on the tight street circuit a warm favourite, the in-form Davis and the boys from FDJeux.com, will be out to ensure it's a contest.
Cofidis rider Matt White, a regular performer in the early season criteriums is also planning to get amongst the prizemoney, but first and foremost it's about giving something back to the sport.
"It's good fun racing, show off our talents here in Australia," White told Cyclingnews.
"We don't get much of a chance to do it."
Images by David Magahy/www.goldcoastphotography.com
Images by Ben Manson
Images by John Flynn
Images by Nicholas O'Donnell
Images by Michael Marston
1 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 2 Jaaron Poad (Aus) 3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 4 Mark Roland (Aus) 5 Austin Jayson (Aus) 6 Nick Gates (Aus) Lotto-Domo 7 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis 8 Grant Irwin (Aus) 9 Adam Tully (Aus) 10 Leon Vogels (Aus) B Grade 1 Jeff Harris 2 Ryan Matthews C Grade 1 Ryan Gittens 2 Peter Flynn 3 Jeff Liddell Corporate 1 Kristopher Ridway 2 Stephen Newcomb 3 Val Stupkin
2003 Mark Roland (Aus) 2002 Matt White (Aus) US Postal