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Australian Open Road Championships - CN
Ballarat, Australia, January 9-January 12, 2008
Stage 6 - January 13: Elite men's road race, 163.2 km
Relaxed Lloyd takes biggest win of his career
By Paul Verkuylen with additional reporting by Mal Sawford
Matt Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) took to the start of today's national title after taking a relaxed approach to racing and training in the off season and turned out an impressive performance to win. The Victorian's win left the rest of the field asking itself, 'what can we expect when he takes it seriously?'
After attacking with three laps to go, shortly before the main climb of the day, Lloyd quickly bridged across to the reminisce of the early break away consisting of Scott Davis (High Road), Robert Hodgson (NSW) and Nathan Jones (WA). From there Lloyd simply rode away for the final two laps to take a well deserved victory, 49 seconds ahead of Thursday's time trial winner Adam Hansen (High Road) and Rory Sutherland (Healthnet Maxxis).
"I was just watching everyone and I noticed, because they were watching each other and not me, because I was alone today, that when I actually made the move and I went there would be some hesitation [to follow me]," explained Lloyd. "With that in mind I was fortunate enough to get away and I knew that I could maintain the same speed, because I have done this course that many times.
"I was prepared to just lay it on the line and I was really lucky enough to get away at that time and eventually hold on, so that was fantastic," Lloyd added of his effort over the last few laps.
A relaxed Lloyd spoke about his win as though it was just another day on the bike, but admitted, "it's remarkable, I am sure that in the next few days it will sink in".
Coming into the event, Lloyd was not one of the many riders that were spoken about as possible winners of the race, but that played directly into the youngster's hands. "It's one of those races that if you enter it you want to win it," he said. "I have been trying to be a bit more relaxed than in the lead up to the season as apposed to in the past, because in the past I have been trying to be a professional, whereas now that I am, it's more a matter of targeting races or bigger races overseas.
"So it's a bit bogus having today's race and winning, because I didn't expect it," he added. "But when you're out there and you win it, I'm not going to pass that up."
Pre-race favourite Hansen was clearly disappointed with second, after stating earlier that he had targeted the event. "I am upset that I didn't win it," he said. "I really wanted to win, and I was riding well to win. But [Lloyd] slipped away and we didn't really know until it was too late."
Hansen pointed out that due to the chaos of bunches and riders being caught he was not aware that Lloyd was away until there was nothing he could do to chase him down. "The problem was, groups kept going away and he was in them, and I would close the gap on the hill," he explained. "Then he went in a group and we caught that group, but I didn't actually see him get away from that group. I really thought that he was back in the main group. When I heard [that he'd gone], it was too late and he had too much time."
Another rider who is no stranger to the national championship podium is Sutherland, having finished second on various occasions, the most recently on Thursday in the time trial. Despite being disappointed with his minor placing, Sutherland was jovial in his defeat. "If you make it onto the podium just once at nationals you should be happy, but I would like to get on the step next to me," he quipped, pointing to the top step.
Like Hansen, Sutherland was not aware that Lloyd was away until it was too late, but was full of praise for Lloyd's efforts during the dying kilometers of the race. "I didn't know that he was away, it was pretty chaotic, there was groups going away all the time," noted Sutherland. "I didn't see him, but I know that he is a very strong rider. When we were getting time checks on the last lap and a half, he held it the whole way. We couldn't get him back and you're talking about the two guys that ran top two in the time trial."
How it unfolded
There were plenty of riders eager to be part of the traditional early break, with the first attack coming as soon as the bunch swung onto the Midland Highway to commence the first climb. James Pugh and Charles Howlett joined Scottish riderl Evan Oliphant, and the trio crested the climb 10 seconds clear of a handful of chasers. The lead group swelled to a dozen, but the field came back together on the descent.
The first 10.1 km lap was completed in 15.15 minutes - the fastest lap ever posted around the championship circuit. The bunch maintained a good tempo on the first stage of the climb on the second lap, before an attack by locally based British rider Tom Southam (A&I Helicopters), proudly wearing the Cornish flag around his left bicep, at the turn off the highway that saw six riders respond. Oliphant, Craig McCartney (Savings & Loans), Chris Jongewaard (SASI), Damien Turner (Cycle City Ballarat), Nathan Jones (TBE Brooks) and Joshau Chugg (Pratties) followed, with a surge by Southam to take the KOM points seeing he, Jongewaard and McCartney clear of this group.
On the descent the remaining four were joined by Robbie Williams (Drapac Porsche), Scott Davis (Highroad), Robert Hodgson (Northern Sydney CC), Sean Finning (Jayco VIS) and Stephen Isbel (Velo Canberra). Southam and Jongewaard flew up the climb on the third lap, setting a pace McCartney chose not to follow. As McCartney was absorbed by the chasers, the two leaders were 35 seconds ahead, while the disinterested bunch were a further minute and a half adrift.
Southam and Jongewaard continued to drive the pace for another lap before deciding to ease off and wait for the chasers when time checks showed the gap to the main field was growing rapidly. The chasers, minus Oliphant and Chugg, reached the leading pair with a little over 12 of the 16 laps remaining, and crossed the finish line 2.40 minutes up on the bunch.
A lap later the margin was 3.41 minutes, with the leaders consistently lapping in under 15.30 minutes. Another surge by Southam to take KOM points on the seventh lap saw the bunch fall more than six minutes behind, but the lift in tempo saw Williams' day come to an end.
With the deficit at 6.11 minutes at the half way mark, Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole) and Baden Cooke (Barloworld) began to take control of the bunch. As the peloton swallowed up Williams, Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) jumped away and at the end of the ninth lap and led the main field by 20 seconds, but the break was still an alarming 5.41 minutes behind.
Turner, one of the stronger looking riders in the break, was the next to lose contact when he dropped his chain at the top of the climb. The neutral service was a little slow reaching Turner due to some unfortunately positioned media vehicles, and despite a determined chase, he was unable to rejoin the leaders before the descent.
Finning and Isbel cracked on the following climb, with Hodgson also in trouble, but just able to stay in contact. Behind a group containing Matthew Hayman (Rabobank) and Peter McDonald (Drapac Porsche) had joined Renshaw, with William Walker (Rabobank) not far behind while the rest of the bunch splintered.
With five laps remaining, the break was down to just Southam, Jongewaard, Davis, Jones, and Hodgson. Davis was clearly the freshest of the five, with Hodgson yo-yoing off the back of the group on every climb, and Jongewaard taking every opportunity to stretch and shake out his quads. Jongewaard came close to falling on the climb after overlapping wheels but recovered well.
As the break started to climb, Matt Lloyd (Silence-Lotto), Trent Lowe (Slipstream) and Cooke attacked the bunch. Adam Hansen (High Road) brought the bunch back up to Lowe and Cooke, but Lloyd continued on, a fact the peloton would later regret. "I saw the other favourites attacking, but I knew the longer I wait, the more powerful I'll be at the finish," Lloyd said after the race.
Next time past the finish, the five leaders led Lloyd by two and half minutes, with David Pell (Savings & Loans), Allan Davis (FRF Couriers - NSWIS), Cameron Wurf (TIS/Cyclingnews), Lowe, McDonald and Hayman crossing 3.10 minutes down.
Jongewaard's legs gave out on the first part of the climb when Davis upped the tempo. Southam managed one final KOM win, wrapping up that competition, before sitting up to leave just Jones and Hodgson to work with Davis. By the start of the third last lap, Lloyd was within two minutes and flew up the climb to reach the KOM only 27 seconds behind Davis' group.
Lloyd reached the leading trio as they passed under the finish line with two laps remaining. Hodgson and Jones couldn't match Lloyd's tempo at the start of the climb, while Davis was in sight of the summit when he suddenly ran out of steam, leaving Lloyd alone. Joshua Wilson (Pratties) attacked the chasers and came with 33 seconds of Lloyd before fading, before Sutherland and Hansen made their final belated charge.
At the bell, Lloyd led Hansen and Sutherland by 1.08 minutes, and lost only three seconds on the climb. With the final seven kilometres mainly downhill, Lloyd was virtually unbeatable, but showed little emotion as he attacked the descent and time trialled to the finish - hardly even breaking his tuck as crossed the line to take his biggest win.
Sutherland led out the sprint for second at the 250 metre mark and looked to have Hansen beaten, but a late recovery by Hansen saw him draw level at the line and pick up a silver medal to go with his time trial gold. Sutherland finished the championships with silver in the time trial and bronze in the road race, Ritchie Porte (Pratties) soloed home in fourth place, a great result which saw him gain the final place up for grabs in the UniSA team for the Tour Down Under, just ahead of Gerrans and Matt Wilson (Team Type 1).
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
Images by WomensCycling.net
Elite men 1 Matthew Lloyd (VIC) 4.13.22 (38.600 km/h) 2 Adam Hansen (QLD) 0.49 3 Rory Sutherland (ACT) 4 Richie Porte (TAS) 1.19 5 Simon Gerrans (VIC) 1.21 6 Matt Wilson (VIC) 1.23 7 Matthew Hayman (ACT) 1.33 8 Chris Sutton (NSW) 9 Peter Mcdonald (NSW) 10 Cameron Hughes (QLD) 11 Daniel Mc Connell 12 William Walker (VIC) 1.35 13 Joshua Wilson (TAS) 3.13 14 Trent Wilson (NSW) 3.23 15 Scott Davis (QLD) 16 Darren Lapthorne (VIC) 4.21 17 Cameron Wurf (TAS) 18 David Pell (VIC) 5.12 19 Allan Davis (QLD) 20 Karl Menzies (TAS) 21 Jai Crawford (TAS) 22 Robert Hodgson (NSW) 23 Nathan Jones (WA) 6.14 24 Chris Luxton (VIC) 7.02 25 Richard England (VIC) 26 Ben Day (QLD) 27 Michael England (QLD) 28 Luke Roberts (SA) 29 Rhys Pollock (VIC) 30 Taiji Nishitani (NSW) 31 Chris Jongewaard (SA) 32 Gene Bates (SA) 33 Jonathon Clarke (VIC) 34 Damien Turner (VIC) 11.34 35 Tom Southam 13.18 DNF Michael Rogers (ACT) DNF Baden Cooke (VIC) DNF Trent Lowe (VIC) DNF Aaron Kemps (QLD) DNF Stuart Shaw (ACT) DNF Mark Renshaw (NSW) DNF Stephen Isbel (ACT) DNF Brent Miller (ACT) DNF James Steinhauser (VIC) DNF Takaeaki Ayabe (JPN) DNF Takumi Beppu (JPN) DNF Satoshi Hirose (JPN) DNF Niko Merilainen (NOR) DNF Kenichi Suzuki (JPN) DNF Graeme Brown (NSW) DNF Phillip Chapman (NSW) DNF John Ebeling (NSW) DNF David Evans (NSW) DNF Nathan Germaine (NSW) DNF Shaun Higgerson (NSW) DNF Matthew Johns (NSW) DNF Hayden Kegg (NSW) DNF Shaun Lewis (NSW) DNF Peter Milostic (NSW) DNF Joel Pearson (NSW) DNF Bradley Scarfe (NSW) DNF Kor Sietsma (NSW) DNF Raymond Smith (NSW) DNF Mark Wall (NSW) DNF Robert Williams (NSW) DNF Craig Cahill (QLD) DNF Gregory Campbell (QLD) DNF Giuseppe Cirella (QLD) DNF Johnathan Coulter (QLD) DNF Grant Irwin (QLD) DNF Scott Kilmartin (QLD) DNF Chris Klem (QLD) DNF Gavin Nichols (QLD) DNF Chris Prior (QLD) DNF Jared Rowney (QLD) DNF Matthew Wood (QLD) DNF Matthew Opperman (SA) DNF Michael Stallard (SA) DNF Joshua Chugg (TAS) DNF Daniel Furmston (TAS) DNF Caleb Manion (TAS) DNF Bernard Sulzberger (TAS) DNF Peter Aquilina (VIC) DNF Jay Bourke (VIC) DNF Hilton Clarke (VIC) DNF Chris D'amelio (VIC) DNF Brad Edmunds (VIC) DNF Samuel Hartley (VIC) DNF Jason Hegert (VIC) DNF Mark Hooper (VIC) DNF Tim Hucker (VIC) DNF Matthew Jensen (VIC) DNF Peter Ladd (VIC) DNF Craig Mccartney (VIC) DNF Nicholas Mitchell (VIC) DNF Casey Munro (VIC) DNF Adam Murchie (VIC) DNF James Pugh (VIC) DNF Samuel Rix (VIC) DNF Jeremy Ross (VIC) DNF Murray Spink (VIC) DNF Reece Stephens (VIC) DNF Jacob Sutherland (VIC) DNF Will Wettenhall (VIC) DNF Stuart Gribble (WA) DNF Henk Vogels (WA) DNF Greg Henderson (NZL) DNF Koen De Kort (NED) DNF Evan Oliphant (GBR) DNF Graeme Allbon DNF Luke Dale (NSW) DNF Jeremy Hunt (GBR) DNF Will Dikerson (SA) DNF Gilbert Gutowski (QLD) DNF Graham Webster DNF Sean Finning DNF Charles Howlett DNF Peter Herzig (NSW) DNF David Tanner DNS Stuart O'grady (SA)