Dennis starts his 2012 Olympic bid with under 23 gold in Buninyong

Sheppard cramps in finishing straight but still takes second, Watson rolls over for third

On a day that couldn't have gone more smoothly for his Jayco-AIS team, Rohan Dennis, who wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de l'Avenir late last year has claimed his maiden national road title.

The 21-year-old who hails from South Australia was a level above in the final two laps of the brutal Buninyong course, jumping away with a select group of three riders that included, Eric Sheppard (VIS) and Calvin Watson (Jayco-AIS), before asserting himself on the final climb up Mount Buninyong.

Watson went all-out for Dennis on the penultimate ascent, falling back to make it a battle for two at the front.

Dennis looked, and was comfortable, and when it came down to the final sprint, made it look easy as he powered away from a cramping Sheppard. Speaking at the stage finish Dennis praised the work of his team first and foremost.

"It was amazing, we had Patrick Lane and Aaron Donnelly working really well early, and at the end we still had five or six guys.

"Calvin then did a great job in setting me up for the finish, I really can't thank my teammates enough.

"I must admit - I doubted things with like five laps to go, I was cramping but I was able to rehydrate and I started feeling a lot better in the final two laps.

"I have been working for this for a few years now and it is the first national road race I have ever won. I can't really put it in words right now - I am just overwhelmed really."

Sheppard meanwhile was stoked to come away with silver.

"It was a hard race out there, but this is probably my best result ever," said the Victorian Institute of Sport cyclist. "From three or four to go, I noticed there were splits in the bunch and so I knew it was a perfect time to go.

"In the final few laps, Rohan and I were both cramping up and thinking the same thing, that is hoping the other guy didn't hit, didn't take off.

"But I gave it my all and full credit to Rohan," added Sheppard.

How it unfolded

On time and under blue skies in the rural town of Buninyong, some 126 riders rolled out for the 2012 Mars under 23 men's road national championships.

The first move went almost on the gun, with 6 riders including Sam Spokes (NSWIS), Rhys Gillett, Tim Cameron (Suzuki-Trek), Julian Hamill (GPM-Wilson Racing), Brian McLeod (Budget-Forklifts) and Alex Wong (GPM-Wilson Racing) forming an escape on the first ascent of the famous Mount Buninyong.

With no Jayco-AIS riders in the break, the blue-and-red team quickly put riders on the front of the main bunch and with the pace on, and the gap stabilised around the 1 minute mark.

The pace proved too hot for Alex Wong, who dropped from the break, and proceeded to go out the back of the bunch on the following lap.

It didn't take long for the group to wittle down further, with Hamill, and then Spokes finding the going too tough on the third climb of Buninyong.

The lead trio however looked very solid, and with Gillett and McLeod there was plenty of engine to keep the break going.

Under the watch of the Jayco-AIS squad led by Patrick Lane the gap went out to 1:30, then back down to 1 minute with the leash never extending too much.

The break seemed to content to split the sprint and KOM points between them. Gillett accumulated the sprint points, while McLeod took the KOMs. Cameron, who was largely a passenger just seemed happy to be there.

Gruppo Compatto

In just one lap, the gap disappeared - it was 1:30 and then it wasn't. Cameron had had enough, and then Gillett and McLeod surrendered as the race hit the final 45 kilometres [four laps].

The chase, which had been led by Jayco-AIS from the outset, suddenly turned into counter attacking opportunity for the squad.

Rohan Dennis (Jayco-AIS), Eric Sheppard (VIS) and Calvin Watson (Jayco-AIS) formed a move on the third from last time up Mount Buninyong and would never be seen again.

Watson was used as a work horse for Dennis who was clealy the favoured rider, and after a couple of break neck laps, Watson dropped off leaving it to be a battle of two riders - Sheppard and Dennis.

In the bunch behind, the chase was marked by - you guessed it Jayco-AIS. That made it difficult for the other teams, who by now were sparse in number anyway.

Genesys combined with Tom Palmer (Drapac) and several other riders, and made a late charge. All three of the remaining Genesys riders surged on the final climb up Buninyong, Sam Davis, Blake Hose, and Campbell Flakemore, but their eleventh hour efforts were not enough.

The gap was just too big blowing out to more than a minute with five kilometres, mainly downhill to come.

In the final straight the sprint, which was a long one, opened up really early, and sensing weakness Dennis jumped away. Sheppard cramped and fell behind, allowing Dennis to take the foot off the gas and cruise on for a really classy win.

Calvin Watson finished third to take a well deserved bronze medal.

Brian Mcleod was the KOM winner, while Gillett topped the sprint classification.

Full Results
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Rohan Dennis (SA) 3:04:41  
2 Eric Sheppard (Vic) 0:00:02  
3 Calvin Watson (Vic) 0:01:03  
4 Jay McCarthy (QLD)    
5 Ben Grenda (Tas) 0:01:12  
6 Blake Hose (Vic)    
7 Stephen Hall (Wa)    
8 Samuel Davis (Wa)    
9 Luke Fetch (Vic)    
10 Stuart Smith (Vic)    
11 Mitchell Lovelock-Fay (ACT)    
12 Matthew Clark (Vic)    
13 Oliver Kent-Spark (Vic)    
14 Lachlan Morton (NSW)    
15 Michael Crosbie (Vic)    
16 Alex Clements (Tas) 0:01:15  
17 Thomas Palmer (ACT) 0:01:45  
18 Phillip Mundy (SA) 0:02:25  
19 Stuart Mulhern (QLD)    
20 Campbell Flakemore (Tas)    
21 Kevin Hawes (NSW)    
22 Alex Wohler (QLD) 0:05:30  
23 James Mowatt (Vic) 0:06:19  
24 Sam McCallum (Vic)    
25 Trenton Day (NSW)    
26 Scott Mcphee (SA) 0:07:34  
27 Trent Morey (Vic)    
28 James Szollosi (QLD)    
29 Timothy Cameron (ACT)    
30 Jack Haig (Vic)    
31 Nathan Elliott (Vic)    
32 Damien Wright (QLD)    
33 Robbie Hucker (Vic) 0:07:37  
34 Craig Hutton (NSW) 0:10:09  
35 Lachlan Doak (Vic) 0:10:44  
36 Danny Pulbrook (Tas)    
37 Nicholas Woods (NSW)    
38 Luke Ockerby (Tas) 0:10:47  
39 Justin Vanstone (QLD)    
40 Brian Mcleod (QLD)    
41 Jamie Lacey (QLD) 0:10:49  
42 Jordan Davies (NSW) 0:14:49  
43 Merlin Spranz (SA) 0:19:25  
44 Aaron Eynaud (Vic) 0:20:28  
45 Rhys Gillett (Vic) 0:20:31  
46 Stephen Bomball (ACT) 0:22:54  
DNF Damien Howson (SA)    
DNF Nick Aitken (Vic)    
DNF Aaron Donnelly (NSW)    
DNF Jordan Kerby (QLD)    
DNF Patrick Lane (Vic)    
DNF Benjamin Hill (NSW)    
DNF Brenton Jones (Vic)    
DNF Jared Triggs (NSW)    
DNF Lachlan Ambrose (SA)    
DNF James Boal (Vic)    
DNF Shaun O'Callaghan (Vic)    
DNF Andrew Martin (Wa)    
DNF Darcy Woolley (Vic)    
DNF Mitchell Cooper (Vic)    
DNF Douglas Freeburn (QLD)    
DNF Harry Carpenter (SA)    
DNF Joshua Apolony (NSW)    
DNF Cameron Bayly (SA)    
DNF Samuel Beveridge (Vic)    
DNF Joshua Blake (SA)    
DNF Aaron Blomeley (Vic)    
DNF Peter Braunsteins (Vic)    
DNF James Butler (Vic)    
DNF Trent Carman (QLD)    
DNF Alex Carver (NSW)    
DNF Timothy Chadwick (Vic)    
DNF Taylor Charlton (QLD)    
DNF Andrew Christie (Vic)    
DNF Luke Collyer (NSW)    
DNF Alistair Crameri (Vic)    
DNF Sam Crome (Vic)    
DNF Steven Del Gallo (Vic)    
DNF Pat Drapac (Vic)    
DNF Jay Dutton (NSW)    
DNF Callum Fagg (Tas)    
DNF Luca Giacomin (Vic)    
DNF Julian Hamill (NSW)    
DNF Billy Hutton (NSW)    
DNF Cameron Ivory (NSW)    
DNF Jarryd Jones (Vic)    
DNF Robert Kell (NSW)    
DNF Matthew Lane (Vic)    
DNF Scott Law (NSW)    
DNF Alastair Loutit (NSW)    
DNF Daniel McDonald (NSW)    
DNF Macauley Mulhull (NSW)    
DNF Conor Murtagh (Vic)    
DNF David Parsons (SA)    
DNF Joshua Prete (QLD)    
DNF James Rendall (NSW)    
DNF David Schilg (NSW)    
DNF Todd Schintler (Vic)    
DNF Clive Silcock (Vic)    
DNF Nicholas Smith (Vic)    
DNF Joel Stearnes (Tas)    
DNF Fergus Sully (Vic)    
DNF George Tansley (SA)    
DNF Josh Taylor (NSW)    
DNF Angus Tobin (NSW)    
DNF Alex Wong (NSW)    
DNF Peter Wood (Vic)    
DNF Adam Allen (QLD)    
DNF Luke Davison (NSW)    
DNF David Edwards (QLD)    
DNF Jack Beckinsale (NSW)    
DNF Samuel Spokes (NSW)    
DNF Mitchell Codner (NSW)    
DNF Daniel O'Keefe (NSW)    
DNF Ivan Michelin-Beard (ACT)    
DNF Liam Dove (Vic)    
DNF Stefan Imberger (Vic)    
DNF Nicholas Dougall (QLD)    
DNF Blaise Bourke (Vic)    
DNF Ben Hilleard (Vic)    
DNF Brendan Johnston (NSW)    
DNF Jackson Law (NSW)    
DNF Jack Matthews (Tas)    
DNF Ian Richards (QLD)    
DNF Chris Zucchet (Vic)    
DNF Jarrod Coveney (NSW)    
DNF Ryan Macanally (QLD)    
Sprint Classification
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Rhys Gillett (Vic) 15  pts
2 Brian McLeod (QLD) 13  
3 Timothy Cameron (ACT) 7  
4 Eric Sheppard (Vic) 4  
5 Calvin Watson (Vic) 4  
6 Rohan Dennis (SA) 4  
7 Luke Ockerby (Tas) 3  
8 Nicholas Dougall (QLD) 2  
9 Jay Mccarthy (QLD) 1  
10 Samuel Spokes (NSW) 1  
DNF Damien Howson (SA) 3  
DNF Nick Aitken (Vic) 3  
KOM Classification
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Brian McLeod (QLD) 18  pts
2 Rhys Gillett (Vic) 17  
3 Rohan Dennis (SA) 8  
4 Timothy Cameron (ACT) 6  
5 Calvin Watson (Vic) 4  
6 Eric Sheppard (Vic) 2  
7 Jay Mccarthy (QLD) 2  
DNF Nick Aitken (Vic) 2  
DNF Patrick Lane (Vic) 1  


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