An attack inside the final 1500 metres of the Australian national championships men's road race from former track world champion Miles Scotson saw the 22-year-old emerge triumphant ahead of a charging Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) and Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) to conclude one the best finishes the Buninyong circuit has witnessed.
The victory for Scotson added to BMC's win in the time trial with Rohan Dennis, and in the U23 time trial with Scotson's younger brother Callum on BMC Development.
Following an aggressive final two laps with numerous riders making moves and an ever-changing front group, Scotson was sitting near the rear of the 14-man leading group when he launched his attack on the right-hand-side of his rivals, powering down the descent into the Warrenheip St finish, with his exuberant celebration ensuring the chasers finished on the same time.
"I waited behind on that last lap and just whacked them and wound the gear out and tried to tuck low on that descent," said Scotson, who had a bigger front ring placed on his bike yesterday. "When I got to the bottom of that hill land seeing the gap that I had, I couldn’t believe it. I was like ‘wow, this really going to happen’. There were so many different feelings coming into the line and I just couldn’t believe it."
With Luke Durbridge playing the policeman in the front group, after a day largely spent in the breakaway, and getting ready to lead out Gerrans for the sprint, Scotson made his move with only the Orica-Scott rider briefly giving chase before cramp got the better of both his arms and legs.
"Maybe they under estimated me, I don’t know. No one really jumped and I was just kind of winding. I know that you can carry your speed on that descent and I must have hit that downhill and kept the pace and the gap went out without pedalling. I was still doing the track mid-year last year for Rio and I think track power means something," said Scotson, who was the reserve for the team pursuit squad which won silver. "It paid off today. You think the ‘track affects your road’ and all this but it was perfect. It was a one and half kay pursuit at the end.
"I think I rode a smart race. I stuck to my plan and it is easy to just go for a top five or a top three but I think people forget about those results so I was all in. What do I have to lose really?"
The 'all in' attitude proved dividends for Scotson who became the third rider in as many years to prove that individual riders can triumph over numbers on the hilly course.
Revealing that he had been sick over the festive period, Gerrans explained he rode as conservatively as possible throughout the race and, while disappointed to have missed a third title, nothing more could have been done.
"It is ever so disappointing when it is so close to get the way and that is what counts here today. We did everything we could, we had guys up the road all day long which was the plan. I actually wasn’t on the best of days so I rode as conservatively as I could and tried to stay in the race as long as I could," he said.
"I hardly rode my bike between Christmas and new year. I got a bit of a stomach bug or something; it was a disappointing way to finish off my preparations for the Australian national championships. I had done so much work leading into that and it was just this last little bit that didn’t quite go right. To bounce back and be at the front here today, I am pretty happy with it."
It was a similar sensation for Haas, who came into the race confident of victory and confident of having the fastest finish in a bunch kick.
"If you told me this morning you are going to be third after a really hard and impressive race, I would be like ‘cool’, but it is always hard when you come to a championships event knowing that you have done the work as well and knowing that a course suits you with the question mark over how many more years it will be here for," he said. "Third is fantastic and a great way to start the year for Dimension Data. What really came out of today that I am super happy about is how rode as a team.
"Today, without being biased, Team Dimension Data was the strongest on course. We didn’t have the guys in terms of numbers but we rode, I think, the best as a team. Obviously, Miles was an exceptional winner today. This course has no gifts and takes no prisoners. He did a great race. I am happy with third. It is great but I would like to win," he added.
Coming into the final lap, Cannondale-Drapac's Brendan Canty thought he was about to take out the solo win but quickly realised he had another 10km to race. There was nearly a premature celebration by Scotson as well but the fellow first year WorldTour rider held on for victory on his first road race day as a professional.
How it unfolded
The men's 186.3km race started under high clouds and blue skies with the sun beating down on the 119 riders who rolled out for the 12:15pm start. Once the starting guns had been fired, the pace was high, with riders keen to make their way to the front of the peloton and establish a breakaway. IsoWhey Sport Swisswellness' Jesse Kerrison and Orica-Scott's Damien Howson led the peloton over the Mt Buninyong climb for the first two laps, with both teams controlling the race and not letting the breakaway get away.
Michael Friedberg tried a solo move before the quartet of Luke Durbridge, Sean Lake, Adam Phelan and Steele von Hoff established the first break of the race. They were joined by Sam Chrome, Lachlan Morton, Lachlan Norris and Mitch Docker to form a seven-man front group on lap 5 with 30 seconds to the peloton.
The leaders increased their advantage to 1:30 minutes as the peloton decided it was happy with the composition of the breakaway that had swelled to ten riders when Miles Scotson (BMC), Brodie Talbot, Jai Crawford, and Neil van der Ploeg made the jump across. Jay McCarthy, Damien Howson, Sam Crome and Adam Hansen were active off the front and cut the leader's advantage down to 30 seconds before they re-joined the peloton.
Calvin Watson (Aqua Blue Sport) used the opportunity launch a counter attack and go after a place in the break up the Midland Highway climb as the race turned on its head during lap seven. The composition of the breakaway changed up on the lap so that when they came through to start lap 8, it was Van der Pleog, McCarthy, Morton, Durbridge, Robbie Hucker, Pat Lane, Caleb Ewan and Cam Meyer an eight-man group leading the peloton by just over one minute. Ben Dyball decided to give chase, sensing the break could be the winning move, with Troy Herfloss and Scott Bradburn also trying to bridge with 100km left in the race.
Scott Sunderland took up the pace setting responsibilities at the head of the peloton, which was 2:53 minutes in arrears as Dyball made the bridge on lap nine with Herfloss stuck in no man's land between peloton and break. Making a guest appearance at the race was Colombian Esteban Chaves, who first rode the course before jumping in his Orica-Scott team car, acting as a second directeur sportif for the day and passing on advice to Ewan and Durbridge at the head of the race.
At the half-way mark, the eight-man group led the chasing Herfloss with the peloton at 2:20 minutes with van der Ploeg active in the break, launching several small attacks to ensure no one was sitting on. For the next 40km there was little action with the peloton holding the breakaway at around the three minute mark.
With 50km to race, Morton decided to test his legs up Midland highway in an attempt to trim the breakaway and then went again on Mt Buninyong. Dyball was next to test his legs with Ewan looking comfortable. Lane decided he would also test his legs after teammate van der Ploeg dropped out of the group due to the surges. With 37km to go on the fourth last last up the climb, Dyball and then Durbridge both tested their legs on a slower lap that saw the peloton start the third last lap just 1:30 minute in arrears.
The reduced lead saw the likes of Meyer and McCarthy come to the front of the break to up the pace and, despite having teammates in the break, Ben O'Connor (Dimension Data) and Howson shared turns on the front of the peloton to ensure the advantage continued to fall. On the Mt Buninyong climb, the peloton had the break in its sights with just under one minute with Brendan Canty and Watson testing their legs from the bunch. Canty caught Ewan at the KOM banner as the Orica-Scott rider was dropped from the breakaway alongside Lane.
At the head of the race, Morton rolled the dice with another attack. Durbridge, Meyer, Hucker and McCarthy took up chase of Morton with Canty, Ewan and Chrome chasing a little further back while Lane and Dyball found themselves in the middle. The seven-man group of Meyer, Durbridge, Lane, Hucker, McCarthy, Morton and Dyball came together at the head of the race, while the peloton continued to turn the screws and chase them down.
The second-to-last lap saw the seven-man group come through the start/finish gantry with a lead of 30 seconds over Matt Clark and the O'Connor-led peloton a further ten seconds back. At the top of the Midland Highway, Mark O'Brien, in his retirement race, led the peloton as they caught the breakaway. At 17km to go, Canty launched again on the Mt Buninyong climb as the already reduced front group was further splintered down.
Canty led solo leading into the final lap with Durbridge in chase and the peloton at 45 seconds but, having thought he was crossing the line as the winner, he appeared shot as the race continued to blow apart behind him. Durbridge made contact with eight kilometres to race as chase group came into view at the bottom of the Buninyong climb. Travis Meyer, also in his last race as a professional, attacked from the chase which saw reactions from Haas, Gerrans, McCarthy and Nathan Earle to bring back Canty and Durbridge. Solo man Earle was the next man to move and quickly gained an advantage before being shut down by Durbridge.
The now 14-man front group were looking at each other in the final five kilometres as it appeared a sprint finish was on the cards with Gerrans the most dangerous rider of the lot. Minor moves were made by the leading men before Scotson ramped up from almost last wheel, catching his rivals by surprise and soloing to a stirling win.
|#||Rider Name (Team)||Result|
|1||Miles Scotson (BMC Racing Team)||4:37:55|
|2||Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott)|
|3||Nathan Haas (Dimension Data)|
|4||Cameron Bayly (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|7||Brendan Canty (Cannondale-Drapac)|
|8||Robbie Hucker (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|9||Lachlan Norris (UnitedHealthcare)|
|11||Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe)|
|14||Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott)||0:00:24|
|15||Patrick Lane (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)||0:01:22|
|17||Sam Crome (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)||0:03:44|
|18||Cameron Ivory (GPM Stulz)|
|19||Chris Hamilton (Team Sunweb)|
|20||Anthony Giacoppo (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|21||Jai Crawford (Kinan Cycling Team)|
|22||Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data)|
|23||Adam James Hansen (Lotto Soudal)||0:03:57|
|24||Ben O'Connor (Dimension Data)|
|25||Steele Von Hoff|
|26||Cameron Wurf (Cylance Pro Cycling)|
|27||Nathan Elliott (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|28||Zakkari Dempster (Israel Cycling Academy)||0:04:56|
|29||Calvin Watson (Aqua Blue Sport)|
|31||Jesse Kerrison (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)||0:05:15|
|33||Timothy Cameron (St George)|
|38||Zane Hunter (Olivers Racing)|
|39||Aden Reynolds (Mobius Future Racing)|
|42||Damien Howson (Orica-Scott)|
|43||Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott)|
|44||Jeremy Cameron (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|DNF||Alex Abell (Nero Racing Team)|
|DNF||Sascha Bondarenko-Edwards (Inform Racing)|
|DNF||Nathan Booth (Phoenix Cycling Collective)|
|DNF||Scott Bradburn (Mobius Future Racing)|
|DNF||Samuel Burston (Mobius Future Racing)|
|DNF||Tristan Cardew (Mobius Future Racing)|
|DNF||William Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac)|
|DNF||Brendan J Cole|
|DNF||Jesse Coyle (Mobius Future Racing)|
|DNF||Rowan Dever (Olivers Racing)|
|DNF||Mitch Docker (Orica-Scott)|
|DNF||Jesse Ewart (7-Eleven Sava RBP)|
|DNF||Jesse Featonby (Drapac-Pat's Veg)|
|DNF||Rylee Field (GPM Stulz)|
|DNF||Timothy Guy (Attaque Team Gusto)|
|DNF||Chris Harper (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|DNF||Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)|
|DNF||Matt Howlett (Orica-Scott)|
|DNF||Brenton Jones (JLT-Condor)|
|DNF||Nicholas Katsonis (Drapac-Pat's Veg)|
|DNF||Jacob Kauffmann (NSWIS)|
|DNF||Oliver Kent-Spark (Drapac-Pat's Veg)|
|DNF||Ashleigh Key (ANP)|
|DNF||Sean Lake (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|DNF||Scott Law (Cylance Pro Cycling)|
|DNF||Ben Marshall (Olivers Racing)|
|DNF||Karl Michelin-Beard (Olivers Racing)|
|DNF||Christopher Miller (Nero Racing Team)|
|DNF||Tom Robinson (NSWIS)|
|DNF||Timothy Roe (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|DNF||Stuart Shaw (NSWIS)|
|DNF||Scott Sunderland (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|DNF||Jack Sutton (Olivers Racing)|
|DNF||Joshua Taylor (NSWIS)|
|DNF||Justin Tomlinson (Nero Racing Team)|
|DNF||Neil Van Der Ploeg (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness)|
|DNF||Joel Walsh (GPM Stulz)|
|DNF||Simon Ward (ANP)|
|DNF||Liam White (Drapac-Pat's Veg)|
|DNF||Alex Wohler (NSWIS)|
|DNF||Ryan Miller (OVR)|
|DNF||Cameron Roberts (GPM Stulz)|
|DNS||Daniel Bonello (St George)|
|DNS||Rob Power (Orica-Scott)|