Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) lived up to his role as favourite and won the Australian national criterium championship with a powerful sprint finish in Ballarat. It was Orica-Scott's second win of the night after Jessica Allen soloed to victory in the women's race earlier in the night.
A strong break sparked by Nathan Earle almost stayed away but a chase by the Isowhey Sports Swisswellness team saw the race come back together with a lap to go.
"Obviously it is pretty hard with the expectation coming in it," said Ewan who won the final day ‘Bay Crits' race on Tuesday after suffering a crash on the opening day of the criterium series. "I think I came in here as the favourite, pretty close favourite because the guys have been sprinting very well so it was always going to be hard but like I said before it was always going to be hard coming in with only two guys to help me but they were probably the two strongest guys in the race fortunately for me. They covered everything perfectly and all I had to do was sit there and relax."
Ewan's teammate Mitch Docker suffered several mechanicals during the race but once he took a lap out, was free to rejoin the action. Along with Damien Howson, Docker played a key role in bringing back the late breakaway on the final lap to set up the 22-year-old for victory.
"I wasn't exactly where I hoped I would be, I got boxed off the wheel in the last corner and I started my sprint as soon as I came out of that corner and had to get my way through the bunch and luckily I got out of the end and could beat Scott. For him coming here with such a strong team, he hasn't done many races with a top team like that but I knew he would be hard to beat if he was in a good position," he added of Sunderland. "I am going to back myself in a race like this, especially with an uphill finish. I feel pretty confidence against a bigger guy like that when we are racing uphill."
Silver was the second medal at the race for Sunderland who claimed bronze in 2015 while for Jones, the JLT Condor man is making a habit of featuring on the podium.
"Consistency always proves the form is there in summer and this year is no different. I think the last four years with two thirds and second, this year I am pretty content,” Jones said of his previous medals. It's hard without teammates and for Isowhey to have 12 guys and guys like Steele [von Hoff], Scott Law, myself trying to box on to find the back of their train, coming out of the last corner in not ideal position I found a strong sprint and it was a photo for third as well. Happy to make the podium and hopefully it's a good sign for this year."
While a sprint finish is largely the expected outcome after 40 laps of racing on the Sturt St circuit, there was an aggressive start to the start that featured attacks from Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe) and Chris Hamilton who was one of several riders waiting on 2017 team kit and race in all black attire. With moves starting and dying simultaneously, Earle was the man who enjoyed the twilight sunshine from lap 18 as he steadily built an advantage over the peloton who were content to let him ride. An eight-man group formed on lap 28 when Earle was joined at the head of the race as IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness swelled to the front of the peloton.
Earle took the sprint points on lap 30 to seal the jersey and a giant Mars Bars from the race sponsors, but the break then started to break up despite Sam Spokes willing hi companions on. The attacks continued at the front of the race as the gap conned to fall. With two laps to go, Travis Meyer tried jumping off the front before he hangs up his wheels to pursue a career as a mortgage broker.
As the bell was run, the peloton was within four seconds of the break and quickly consumed them as Isowhey set up Sunderland and Jesse Kerrison for the win but it was Ewan who reigned supreme for his third green and gold jersey on Sturt St.
"Coming back here, I can't remember how many times I have raced on this course before, I have done well from getting a lead out and also from coming behind," Ewan added of his victory "I think when I got boxed off the wheel in the last corner I didn't panic too much. If I didn't have the confidence, I might have panicked and waited too late for my sprint. I knew I had to go straight away when I came out of the corner to get to the front and I did that and that obviously comes with confidence."
|#||Rider Name (Team)||Result|
|1||Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott)||1:00:58|
|2||Scott Sunderland (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)|
|3||Brenton Jones (JLT-Condor)|
|4||Steele Von Hoff|
|5||Jesse Kerrison (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)|
|6||Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe)|
|7||Cameron Ivory (GPM Stulz)|
|9||Joshua Taylor (NSWIS)|
|10||Scott Law (Cylance Pro Cycling)|
|12||Anthony Giacoppo (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)|
|13||Joel Walsh (GPM Stulz)|
|14||Liam White (Drapac Pats Veg)||0:00:05|
|15||Stuart Shaw (NSWIS)|
|16||Oliver Kent-Spark (Drapac Pats Veg)|
|19||Matt Howlett (Orica-Scott)|
|20||Todd Satchell (Satalyst Verve Racing)||0:00:09|
|23||Tom Robinson (NSWIS)|
|24||Sam Crome (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)||0:00:20|
|25||Aden Reynolds (Mobius Future Racing)|
|27||Brendan J Cole|
|28||Mitch Docker (Orica-Scott)|
|29||Alex Wohler (NSWIS)|
|30||Neil van der Ploeg (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)|
|31||Cameron Roberts (GPM Stulz)||0:00:32|
|33||Chris Hamilton (Team Sunweb)|
|37||Patrick Lane (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)||0:00:46|
|39||Jack Sutton (Oliver's Racing)||0:01:04|
|40||Damien Howson (Orica-Scott)||0:01:07|
|41||Jeremy Cameron (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)||0:01:11|
|42||Nicholas Katsonis (Drapac Pats Veg)||0:01:13|
|DNF||Cameron Bayly (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)|
|DNF||Nathan Booth (Pnx)|
|DNF||Nathan Elliott (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)|
|DNF||Jesse Featonby (Drapac Pats Veg)|
|DNF||Rylee Field (GPM Stulz)|
|DNF||Lachlan Glasspool (Oliver's Racing)|
|DNF||Chris Harper (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)|
|DNF||Robbie Hucker (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)|
|DNF||Karl Michelin-Beard (Oliver's Racing)|
|DNF||Reece Robinson (GPM Stulz)|
|DNF||Ryan Miller (OVR)|
|DNS||Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|2||Jay MCcarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe)||3|
|3||Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott)||2|
|4||Scott Sunderland (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)||2|
|6||Chris Hamilton (Team Sunweb)||1|
|7||Brenton Jones (JLT-Condor)||1|
|8||Jeremy Cameron (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness p/b Cervelo)||1|