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Queensland Grand Prix #2 - NE

Surfers Paradise, Australia, December 12, 2004

2003 Results    Results    Past winners

Greyhound McGee wins Surfers Paradise Grand Prix

Sprint guns McEwen & Davis 'give the dog a bone'

By John Flynn

Brad McGee
Photo ©: David Magahy
Click for larger image

Lotto-Domo Sprint ace Robbie McEwen likened the final result to an old Belgian proverb, but cold hard reality dictated the terms this afternoon as World Champion pursuiter Bradley McGee pinned his ears back like a true greyhound, on the way to claiming race two of the Grand Prix Criterium Series on Queensland's Gold Coast.

There was little the two time Tour de France green jersey winner could do as the FDJeux.com rider launched a brilliant solo attack with two laps to go on the tight Surfers Paradise street circuit. In the process McGee blew apart a five man breakaway which contained both McEwen and fellow sprint specialist Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros).

The event's showcase sprinters were forced to watch in angst like a pair of dog owners, one holding the lead, the other a muzzle .. as the prize winning pooch escaped.

"There's a Belgian saying that talks about two dogs fighting and the third one running off with the bone (laugh), something a bit like that," a jovial McEwen recalled after out-sprinting Davis to take second.

"But it's a very strong dog that ran away with the bone too."

McGee's victory broke a lengthy drought for the FDjeux.com boys, who in this series at least, have been serial underperformers.

"We actually were talking about that between ourselves (pre-race) it's about time we got up," McGee admitted as victory celebrations began for FDjeux's three Australian riders in attendance. "At least make the split, that was the priority number one. Did that, then we win the race .. beautiful."

Davis, whose third placing today gave the Bundaberg product the overall Grand Prix series crown, was unable to produce a repeat of his winning performance last week at Brisbane's Southbank. "Brad caught us napping a bit, got the gap, Robbie and I are sort of looking at each other," Davis recalled of McGee's move on the penultimate lap. "Full credit to Brad he held us off."

How it unfolded

Brad McGee checks behind
Photo ©: David Magahy
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Surfers Paradise, Australia's holiday playground, turned on its magnificent best for round two of the Grand Prix Criterium series, a sixty minutes (plus 3 laps) race on a tight street circuit encompassing the waterfront esplanade and local entertainment district.

Just as in round one, the start sheet read as a guest list of Australia's European based professionals. From the 2005 Davitamon Lotto lineup, Robbie McEwen, Nick Gates, Cadel Evans & Henk Vogels; FDJeux.com riders Brad McGee, Baden Cooke & Matt Wilson; Allan Davis of Liberty Seguros and Matt White from Cofidis.

Joining them on a total start list of 48 riders, an assembly of Australia's up and coming talent, including David Betts & Jonathan Cantwell, not to mention a smattering of the best local A grade riders from a region where road cycling is rapidly growing in popularity. A sizeable crowd also turned out, with much of the interest in the performance of hometown hero Robbie McEwen who'd won at Surfers Paradise the previous two years running.

As always McEwen turned on a tradesmanlike performance, giving himself every opportunity to win the race by going with the moves. "It started off a bit, I wouldn't say conservative, just everybody getting a feel for it," McEwen said of the race atmosphere.

Slowly but surely the pace wound up, an early move by Scott Davis (brother of Allan) was reeled in, before round one placegetter Jaaron Poad launched the race defining move nearing the 30 minute mark.

"A group just come back and I thought good opportunity to go because everybody's in a bit of trouble," the struggling would-be professional recalled of his decision to launch an attack. "So once the gap opened up, sort of stayed out."

Robbie McEwen and Allan Davis
Photo ©: David Magahy
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It was more than "sort of" as the financially strapped one-time road pro, who's prone to understatement, quickly found out. Seconds later the blue jersey of Liberty Seguros sprinter Allan Davis was on his wheel, soon to be followed by more world-beating company in Brad McGee and Robbie McEwen.

"I knew that was the move, but there was no way them two were going to stay away together," McGee revealed of his decision to jump across. "I jumped half way across and then Robbie came out of nowhere, a big flash of green, and that's when we knew it was on."

The ever alert McEwen sized up the situation perfectly, as he generally does. "I knew when I saw those two up the road it was the moment to go because Brad had just gone, so I had to go right there and right then and I was able to get across."

Rounding out the five man breakaway was Australian Under 23 rider Jonathan Cantwell. Like McEwen, the native Gold Coaster was eager to perform in front of his family and local supporters. But in the end the pace of the race would prove too much for the promising young talent. "I got across to the break and in this hot weather your lungs and your body can't take it," Cantwell conceded after blowing up close to the finish. " I only just got on and it took me five laps to roll through and do a turn."

McGee's move - a matter of timing

Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: David Magahy
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With Robbie McEwen's Lotto-Domo team-mates doing their best to keep the pace of the main bunch pedestrian, and with riders from both Lotto and FDJeux in the breakaway, the formula was right for a winning escape.

The pace however, was getting too much for Cantwell and Poad who with time ticking away, were struggling to take turns in the five man group. Sensing an attack from McGee was imminent, McEwen launched a move of his own with three laps to go.

"I knew nobody there wanted to take me to the finish so best defence sometimes is attack," McEwen recounted of his doomed race tactic. "Al Davis covered me with Brad in the wheel and then Brad went over the top and then he showed why he's one of the best pursuiters in the world."

But McGee was equally full of praise for Lotto-Domo's champion sprinter, who never once has let down Australia's cycling faithful by giving less than 100 per cent in the Grand Prix series.

"I really counted on Robbie, he's the man," McGee said of his winning move with two laps to go. "He can not only sprint the fastest in the world but he can pursuit like most of us as well, on this sort of circuit he's so dangerous."

McGee's glory

It was an ecstatic Brad McGee who crossed the finish line to claim victory in race two of the Grand Prix Criterium series, the Olympic gold medalist, a star of track and road, securing in the process bragging rights for the FDJeux team over their Lotto-Domo rivals (both teams have four Australian riders on their roster).

"I've done absolutely nothing as far as intensity," McGee revealed of his off-season training regime. "Ive done less miles this year than last year but more gym work and a bit more structured than ever. The results are paying off already if I'm within my limits and I race like that in December it's very exciting for next year."

McGee is yet to confirm details of his program for early 2005, but next month's Australian Open Road Championships are unlikely to figure in his plans. "I'm actually heading across to my home in Monaco just after christmas and start my European campaign," McGee told Cyclingnews.

"I don't think I'll be there (National championships), I've gotta get back, my girl goes to school over there so I go and put her into school and maybe come back to Australia. I think it'll be a big European season next year."

As for McGee's long term goals for season 2005, the disappointment of withdrawing from the Tour de France of 2004, following his successful year in 2003, still weighs heavily on the champion rider's mind.

When quizzed over what he'd like to achieve in the next twelve months, McGee had just one answer. "Tour de France, Tour de France and three weeks in July ... Tour de France."

Davis also destined for Europe - but first Tour Down Under

The series 1,2,3:
Photo ©: David Magahy
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For the man in the blue colours of Liberty Seguros, there was every reason to be satisfied with his performance in the Grand Prix Criterium series. Allan Davis's victory in race one last week at Brisbane's Southbank, followed up by his third placing here today, delivered the Bundaberg product his second successive series victory.

Like Brad McGee, Davis is very much looking forward to the European season, but first the workaholic sprinter has plenty of racing on home soil to think about. "I'll go back home for christmas and then down to Tasmania doing a criterium down there as well," Davis said of his early season build-up.

"Boxing day I leave and then back home again until the National Titles and then my team will come over and I'll race Tour Down Under with the team and then back over to Europe."

Davis, a rider growing in stature who raced his first Tour de France in 2004, is confident of a start in the 2005 event, but first plans to prove his worth in the big races. "At the moment I'm trying everything I can, training will be based around the Tour but I'll be going for first the season classics," Davis said. "Just continue improving as a professional and getting everything out of the races that I can."

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by David Magahy/www.goldcoastphotography.com

Images by John Flynn

Images by Michael Marston

Images by Chan Chung-Leong

Results

1 Brad McGee (Aus) FDJeux.Com
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto Domo
3 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros
4 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) LifeCycle
5 Jaaron Poad (Aus) Velo Cycles
6 Daniel Newnam (Aus) 
7 Adam Tully (Aus) 
8 Leon Vogels (Aus) 
9 Kurt Dutton (Aus) 
10 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis
 
B Grade
 
1 Todd Dawson
2 Shane Gill
3 Dean Heathcote
 
C Grade
 
1 Trent Forbes
2 Andrew Mallet
3 Rob Brewster

Past winners

2003 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
2002 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo