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2002 Road Champs

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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

BMC Software Australian Open Road Championships

Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, January 16-19, 2003

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Day 4 - January 19: Elite Men's road race, 180 km

O'Grady shines under the Southern Cross

By Jeff Jones in Ballarat

Onya Stuey!
Photo: © CN
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South Australian Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) has taken out the Australian National Road Championship in Buninyong today, winning in a tight three man sprint against Allan Davis (Qld/ONCE) and Patrick Jonker (SA/Van Hemert Groep). O'Grady (29) has worn the yellow and green jerseys in the Tour de France, and is also the reigning Commonwealth Games road champion, but he has never won a national road title. Today that changed as he edged out Davis by half a wheel at the end of the 180 km event.

"In past years I've always been on the back foot and haven't really been aggressive enough, but today I said 'stuff it - I'm gonna go for it'. It hurt like hell," said an exhausted but elated O'Grady after crossing the line.

O'Grady described it as one of his biggest wins. "This is right up there and it means a great deal. There's a lot of pride in wearing the national jersey and Australians have a lot more respect in Europe now, so it's going to be brilliant to have that all year. It made a big difference to Robbie's [McEwen's] year so I'll see if I can equal him," he vowed.

McEwen was unable to produce the goods for a second year in a row as he struggled to make the key breaks today. In the end, it was a matter of who was the strongest as the leading group of seven was reduced to three when Jonker attacked on the climb with two laps to go. Only O'Grady and Allan Davis could go with him, and that was the bike race.

"I was pretty confident but Pat gave it a big nudge with two [laps] to go but I got straight on his wheel. I knew that when we got to the top of the hill that'd be it and I'd just have to hang in there."

Allan Davis
Photo: © CN
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Hang in there he did, although he was wary of Davis' ability. "I haven't seen Allan for a long time but I saw he was pretty comfortable when he came across in that group," said O'Grady. "I knew it was going to be difficult to win but I thought I'd just try and stay there for the finish."

O'Grady was full of praise for Davis, who turns 23 this year. "He's a brilliant bike rider. That guy's got a huge future - he's just signed up for ONCE with Manolo Saiz and that's one of the biggest teams in the world. He's going to go a long way."

Davis, who hails from Bundaberg in Queensland, refused to say die as Pat Jonker started the sprint with 500m to go. "Paddy hit out early and I thought I've got a chance - this is it. I gave it everything I had, but full credit to Stuey who was too good in the sprint," said Davis.

"It's an Australian championship. It's got a lot of pride and prestige to win."

Pat Jonker
Photo: © CN
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Jonker however was satisfied with third, as he knew he had no chance against O'Grady and Davis in a sprint. "I really like the circuit and I attacked early after two laps," he explained. "It was a bit too early and spent the whole day at the front and maybe I didn't have the little bit extra I needed in the last two laps. O'Grady's a much quicker sprinter and the hill's not quite hard enough to get rid of him, so I knew I was in a catch 22. I really didn't have that much chance to win it so I just rode for third."

How it unfolded

Early action
Photo: © CN
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A record field of 153 riders took the start in Buninyong, ready to race over 18 laps of a very testing 10.2 km circuit. The weather conditions were warm (28 degrees) and windy, with a head/crosswind on both sections of the climb. A large crowd (estimated at between 6000-7000 people) had also gathered to watch Australia's best riders fight it out for the championship.

The racing really started on the second lap, when a group of 15 riders went away on the climb. The group contained among others Pat Jonker, Mathew Hayman (Rabobank), Trent Wilson and Jurgen Landrie (iteamNova), and worked hard to establish a gap over the rapidly fragmenting field. But the most they could get was only a minute, with O'Grady very prominent on the front of the peloton on the climb trying to bridge across. He eventually did so along with iteamNova's David McKenzie, and a group of 13 formed in front.

On the seventh lap, it was the turn of Robbie McEwen to jump across, with the defending champion determined to show his worth again. However on lap 8 there was a short cease fire, as two groups came together to form a 40 rider leading pack. The remnants of the once massive peloton were scattered around the course as a result of the brutal early tempo, and all eventually abandoned.

O'Grady bridges
Photo: © CN
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The truce didn't last for long though, as 2001 Australian champion Steve Williams (NSW) powered off the front the ninth time up the climb. This turned out to be a key move, as O'Grady and Russell Van Hout (SA/Selle Italia) jumped away from the peloton near the top of the climb to bridge the gap to Williams. The three were together with a minute's lead at the end of the lap, which marked the halfway point of the race.

The inevitable reaction came in the peloton on Lap 10, halfway up the Mt Buninyong climb. Six riders, Scott Davis (Qld/Panaria), Mathew Hayman (ACT/Rabobank), Gene Bates (SA/AIS), Mark Roland (Qld), David McPartland (Vic) and Patrick Jonker (SA/Van Hemert Groep) attacked and quickly established a break on the tired peloton. They worked hard together and pulled back O'Grady's trio on the 11th lap, to form a lead group of nine.

With such a dangerous move up ahead, McEwen was forced to chase, getting help from Baden Cooke, Mick Rogers and Allan Davis. But the leaders had 1'14 on the lap 12 climb, and did not look like coming back. That's when Allan Davis, Mick Rogers, Jonathan Hall (NSW), Chris Carr (Vic) and Adrian Laidler (SA) decided to go, and the foursome pulled away from the ever diminishing peloton. They were chased in turn by Mick Rogers (ACT/Quick Step), David McKenzie (Vic/iteamNova) and Ben Brooks (NSW/Jelly Belly), but only Rogers could make contact with them.

By this stage McEwen's race was over, as there were too many riders up the road and no-one left to chase. The Davis/Rogers group eventually caught the O'Grady bunch on lap 14, to form a leading group of 14 riders.

Closing stages
Photo: © Kathy Watt
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On lap 15, Mark Roland attacked on the climb, hoping that he could force a selection that he would be a part of. It didn't work, as he was caught before the end of the lap and started to pay for it on the lap 16 climb. Russell Van Hout, Steve Williams and Adrian Laidler lost contact at this point, as the 14 man group fragmented even more. At the top of Mt Buninyong with two and a half laps to go, there was a group of seven: Stuart O'Grady, Pat Jonker, Allan Davis, Scott Davis, Gene Bates, Chris Carr and Mathew Hayman, being pursued by Rogers, Hall, Roland and McPartland, who never saw them again.

The final selection came on the penultimate lap, when Jonker attacked the leaders halfway up the climb. O'Grady and Allan Davis went with him, Gene Bates tried to chase them alone, with Hayman, Carr and Scott Davis chasing him a little further back. But the three leaders were gone, and with them the three medals. The 21 year old Bates was assured of the U23 championship, although he was picked up by Hayman and co. on the last lap.

O'Grady wins
Photo: © Kathy Watt
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Both Davis and Jonker were too spent on the final lap to try and attack O'Grady, who was definitely the best of the three if it came down to a sprint. The three played cat and mouse over the final kilometres, with Pat Jonker obliging with a strong leadout. O'Grady and Davis came off his wheel at 250 to go, and fought it out tooth and nail for the line, with O'Grady just getting it from a determined Davis.

So ended the BMC Software Australian Road Championships for 2003, with Stuart O'Grady becoming a very worthy winner of the green and gold jersey. It even matches his Credit Agricole gear, and he'll be eager to show it off at the front in Europe once the season gets underway in February. But his immediate goal will be the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, that starts in Adelaide on Tuesday. The winner on two previous occasions, O'Grady comes into it as a hot favourite and certainly in brilliant form for his hometown event.

Cyclingnews will be there to cover the entire race, including live reports, wrap ups, news, results and photos from Australia's biggest bike race.


Images by Kathy Watt/Watt Shotz Photography

Images by Jeff Jones/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Tim Paton

Results - 183.6 km

1 Stuart O'Grady (SA) Credit Agricole             4.51.37 (37.77 km/h)
2 Allan Davis (Qld) ONCE-Eroski
3 Patrick Jonker (SA) Van Hemert Groep
4 Mathew Hayman (ACT) Rabobank                       1.56
5 Gene Bates (SA) AIS
6 Scott Davis (Qld) Panaria
7 Chris Carr (Vic)
8 Michael Rogers (ACT) Quick Step Davitamon          4.51
9 David McPartland (Vic) Albury/Wodonga CC
10 Jonathon Hall (NSW) Illawarra CC
11 Mark Roland (Qld) Life Cycle
12 Paul Crake (ACT) Canberra C C                     7.26
13 Adrian Laidler (SA) Adelaide                     12.40
14 Graeme Brown (NSW) Panaria                       14.26
15 Matthew White (NSW) US Postal Service
16 Russell Van Hout (SA) Selle Italia
17 Cameron Jennings (Qld) Rockhampton
18 Simon Gerrans (Vic) Team Krone
19 Tom Leaper (Vic) Blackburn
20 Sean Sullivan (Tas) Northern Districts CC
21 Cain Pasque (Vic) Camperdown
22 Wayne Anderson (NSW) Sutherland                  18.44

U23 Champion

1 Gene Bates (SA) AIS
First National sprints classification

1 Russell Van Hout (SA) Selle Italia                  15 pts
2 Robert Tighello (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield            11
3 Stephen Cunningham (SA) Norwood C.C.                 9

Starters: 151
Finishers: 22

Start list

Steve Aitken (Tas) Hobart Wheelers
Wayne Anderson (NSW) Sutherland
Aaron Batchelor (Vic) Brunswick
Gene Bates (SA) AIS
Jason Benney-Morris (Vic) Shepparton
Luke Bettany (SA) Noarlunga South Coast C.C.
David Betts (Qld) AIS
Pat Blannin (Qld) Gold Coast Goldstars C C
Chris Bradford (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Daniel Brickell (NSW) Sutherland CC
Ben Brooks (NSW) NSWIS
Graeme Brown (NSW) NSWIS
George Bunt (ACT) Canberra C C
Leon Burger (Vic) Blackburn
Brett Cahir (Vic) Melton
Jonathan Cantwell (Qld) Lifecycle
Christopher Carr (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield CC
Darren Casey (Vic) Bendigo
Brendan Cato (NSW) AIS
Glen Chadwick (Qld) Rockhampton Cycle Club
Anthony Challinor (NSW) Parramatta CC
Phil Chapman (NSW) Northern Sydney CC
Dane Cheers (SA) Norwood C.C.
Matthew Chessum (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield CC
Hilton Clarke (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Jonathan Clarke (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Garry Clively (Vic) Coburg
Damien Cook (Vic) Horsham CC
Baden Cooke (Vic) FDJuex.com
Geoffrey Cooke (NSW) Sutherland Shire
Peter Cottam (Vic) Footscray
Paul Crake (ACT) Canberra C C
Carl Cubitt (Vic) Coburg CC
Stephen Cunningham (SA) Norwood C.C.
John Dam (Vic) Bendigo
Jonathan Davis (NSW) NSWIS
Scott Davis (Qld) Panaria
Brent Dawson (NSW) NSWIS
Peter Dawson (WA) AIS
Ben Day (Qld) Cycleogical
Tim Decker (Vic) Bendigo
Camiel Denis (Ned) Team Espoirs Hunter/Albert-Heijn
Anthony Di Battista (Vic) Blackburn
Alex Dimitrivich (SA) Norwood CC
Scott Dixon (NSW) Dubbo CC
Jamie Drew (Vic) Flanders - Iteamnova
Bart Duraj (NSW) Astra Merida
Cadel Evans (Vic) Team Telekom
Manwel Falcon (Vic) Coburg CC
Nick Gates (Qld) C.A.T.S.
Chris George (SA) Norwood C.C.
Simon Gerrans (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Lee Godfrey (Vic) AIS
Marcel Gono (Vic) St Kilda CC
Benjamin Goodman (WA) Southern Districts C C
Matthew Goold (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Andrew Graham (Vic) Port Fairy
Jonathon Hall (NSW) Illawarra CC
James Hannam (SA) Norwood C.C.
David Harrigan (NSW) Parramatta CC
Mathew Hayman (ACT) Rabobank
Mark Heintz (Vic) Brunswick
David Hennesy (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Carl Holleman (NSW) Central Coast CC
Tim Hucker (Vic) Bendigo
Cameron Hughes (Qld) Biciport
Ashley Hutchinson (Qld) AIS
Allan Iacuone (Vic) Flanders - Iteamnova
Matthew Jackson (Vic) Footscray
Alexander James (Vic) Brunswick CC
Mark Jamieson (Tas) Mersey Valley CC
Todd Jasper (Vic) Coburg
Cameron Jennings (Qld) Rockhampton
Patrick Jonker (SA) Aemert Group
Liam Kelly (NSW) Eastern Suburbs CC
Aaron Kemps (Qld) AIS
Paul Kenny (Vic) Melton
Shayne Kirby (Vic) Broadford/Seymour
Adrian Laidler (SA) Adelaide
Jurgen Laundrie (Bel) Flanders - Iteamnova
Jade Lean (SA) Norwood
Tom Leaper (Vic) Blackburn
Paul Logan (Vic) Coburg Cycling Club Inc
Robert Lyte (NSW) Hinchinbrook
Daniel Mackey (WA) Southern Districts
Caleb Manion (Tas) West Tamar CC
Glen Matulich (SA) Adelaide
Craig McCartney (Vic) Geelong West C C
Niall McDonagh (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield CC
Robbie McEwen (Qld) C.A.T.S.
Bruce McIntosh (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
David McKenzie (Vic) Flanders - Iteamnova
David McPartland (Vic) Albury/Wodonga CC
James Meadley (ACT) Canberra C C
Karl Menzies (Tas) Mersey Valley Devonport CC
Peter Milostic (NSW) Penrith Panthers
Eugene Moriarty (Ire) Cyceeways-Lee Strand
Adam Murchie (Vic) Footscray
Dylan Newell (Vic) Brunswick Cycling Club Inc
Matt Newlands (Qld) Victor CC
Terry Nightingale (Qld) Ffast
Stuart O'Grady (SA) Credit Agricole
Garry Parsons (Vic) Camperdown
Cain Pasque (Vic) Camperdown
Julian Paynter (Vic) St Kilda C C
David Pell (Vic) Bendigo & District CC
Jason Phillips (Qld) C.A.T.S.
Rhys Pollock (NSW) Albury/Wodonga CC
Adam Pyke (Vic) Chelsea & Peninsula C C
Paul Redenbach (Vic) Footscray
Mark Renshaw (NSW) AIS
Luke Roberts (SA) Team Comnet Senges
Michael Rogers (ACT) Canberra Cycling Club
Mark Roland (Qld) Life Cycle
Nathan Russell (NSW) Caravello Joinery CC
Nicholas Sanderson (Vic) Ararat&District Cycling Club
Brendan Shipp (NSW) St George CC
Brent Skippen (NSW) Parramatta CC
Klayten Smith (NSW) Caravello Joinery CC
Rhys Smith (Vic) Footscray
Ric Steele (WA) Northern Districts CC
Cody Stevenson (NSW) Penrith Panthers CC
Glenn Stojanow (NSW) Parramatta CC
Sean Sullivan (Tas) Northern Districts CC
Bernard Sulzberger (Tas) AIS
Jacob Sunderland (Vic) Brunswick
Rory Sutherland (ACT) Rabobank
Christopher Sutton (NSW) St George CC
Corey Sweet (SA) Credit Agricole
Jay Sweet (SA) Central Districts
David Tanner (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Colin Thornton (Vic) Broadford Seymour CC
Phillip Thuaux (NSW) Central Coast CC
Robert Tighello (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Martin Tobin (Vic) Wangaratta Cycling Club Inc
Andrew Torney (Vic) Footscray
Franco Ursino (SA) Norwood CC
Russell Van Hout (SA) Adelaide CC
Ben Vanderkamp (Qld) Victor CC
Patrick Varas (Vic) Footscray
Henk Vogels (WA) 
Simon Walker (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Andrew Ward (Vic) Coburg CC
Luke Weir (Vic) Carnegie Caulfield
Matt White (NSW) NSWIS
Marc Williams (ACT) Canberra C C
Steven Williams (NSW) Sutherland Shire CC
Matt Wilson (Vic) Chelsea & Peninsula
Trent Wilson (NSW) Flanders - Iteamnova
Stephen Wooldridge (NSW) St George CC
Ralph Zimmermann (Swi) VC Mendrisio - PL Valli