For the third year running, Caleb Ewan reigned supreme in the Australian national criterium championships, taking the elite men's title with a powerful and perfectly executed sprint. Steele von Hoff returned to the podium for silver while Brenton Jones started his Delko-Marseille career with bronze.
Despite the best efforts of the peloton to tire and disrupt the Mitchelton-Scott train, Luke Durbridge in particular kept the race together and ensured the sprint finale. Lucas Hamilton, Cam Meyer and last man Alex Edmondson were also instrumental in ensuring an armchair ride for Ewan.
In prime position for the gallop to the line thanks to his teammates, there was no catching Ewan once he unleashed his powerful, aero-tuck sprint.
"It feels good. The feeling of winning never gets old so it is good to get the year off to a good start again," Ewan said after adding another green and gold jersey to his palmarès.
"I think this is the strongest team we’ve had since I turned pro and I have been racing the elite crit. I was confident in them and it was always going to be harder to beat some of the bigger number teams. They do it so well and they were so strong."
Although the traditional season opening Bay Crits was absent from the 2018 calendar due to a date clash with the nationals, Ewan was straight back into his racing ways for an important confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s national road race and the Tour Down Under later this month.
"To be honest they are all pretty even," he said of his three national criterium titles. "It is not the biggest race I do for the year but it's just really good to get the confidence boost at the start of the season going forward. It is really important as I need that confidence boost going into the season. I think my form is good again and hopefully I can take it on into the season in Europe."
Although Von Hoff missed the chance to make it a treble and add to his 2014 and 2015 wins, the 30-year-old showed no signs of disappointment post-race.
"It is fantastic to be back with such a fantastic squad in Bennelong-SwissWellness, to be able to race with the guys again and be under the guidance of Andrew Christie-Johnston," von Hoff said. "It is such an honour and I am so happy to be back."
For Von Hoff the race was also an important moment to pay tribute to Jason Lowndes, who was tragically killed in a training ride accident late last year.
"All my respect to his family. I hope this can never happen again. It is just devastating," he said. "My last meal in Girona was with him. We are good friends. It is just such a loss for cycling."
Jones likewise paid tribute to his former teammate and friend.
"He was a tremendous young talent who would have been racing here tonight. It is a tragedy for the sport," he said. "You have to make the most of everyday and love your loved ones. Cherish every day and most the most of everything."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott||1:00:43|
|2||Steele von Hoff (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||Brenton Jones (Aus) Delko Marseille Provence KTM||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Nicholas Yallouris (Aus) Brisbane Continental Cycling Team||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Ryan Thomas (Aus) Brisbane Continental Cycling Team||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Theodore Yates (Aus) Drapac EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team||0:00:02|
|8||Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel-Cycling Academy||0:00:03|
|10||Shannon Johnson (Aus)||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Sean Whitfield (Aus) Oliver's Real Food Racing||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Neil Van der Ploeg (Aus)||0:00:08|
|14||Liam White (Aus) Drapac EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team||0:00:10|
|15||Aaron Watts (Aus) GPM||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Sascha Bondarenko-Edwards (Aus) Drapac EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Toby Stewart (Aus) Phoenix Cycling Collective||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Craig Hutton (Aus) GPM||0:00:12|
|19||Thomas Robinson (Aus) Brisbane Continental Cycling Team||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Jack Sutton (Aus) Oliver's Real Food Racing||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Cameron Ivory (Aus) GPM||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Joel Walsh (Aus) GPM||0:00:14|
|23||Daniel Bucknall (Aus)||0:00:17|
|24||Ben Van Dam (Aus) Nero KOM Racing||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||Rylee Field (Aus) St George Continental Cycling Team||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Ayden Toovey (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||0:00:21|
|27||Scott Bowden (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Thomas Kaesler (Aus) Drapac EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||Todd Satchell (Aus)||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Oliver Martin (Aus) Brisbane Continental Cycling Team||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Ivan Michelin-Beard (Aus)||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Tasman Nakervis (Aus) GPM||0:00:23|
|33||Karl Michelin-Beard (Aus) Oliver's Real Food Racing||Row 32 - Cell 2|
|34||Jackson Mawby (Aus)||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Stuart Smith (Aus)||0:00:26|
|36||Cameron Meyer (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott||0:00:31|
|37||Nicholas Leonard (Aus)||0:00:34|
|38||Mathew Upton (Aus)||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Chris Harper (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||0:00:42|
|40||Cameron Roberts (Aus) GPM||0:00:45|
|41||Timothy Roe (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||0:00:54|
|42||Michael Freiberg (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||0:00:57|
|43||Nicholas Graham-Dawson (Aus)||Row 42 - Cell 2|
|44||Ollie Kent-Spark (Aus) Drapac EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team||0:01:00|
|45||Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott||0:01:06|
|46||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Allan Satchell (Aus)||0:01:08|
|48||Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||0:01:09|
|49||Nathan Elliott (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||Row 48 - Cell 2|
|50||Tristain Ward (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||Row 49 - Cell 2|
|51||Adam Lloyd (Aus)||0:01:17|
|52||Jesse Featonby (Aus) Drapac EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team||0:01:21|
|53||Sam Crome (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||0:01:39|
|54||Ben Marshall (Aus)||0:01:46|
|DNF||Cameron Bayly (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Patrick Lane (Aus) InForm Tineli||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Daniel Taylor (Aus)||Row 56 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Samuel Volkers (Aus) Memil - CCN Pro Cycling||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Dylan Newbery (Aus) mobius BridgeLane||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Mitchell Neumann (Aus) Brisbane Continental Cycling Team||Row 59 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Joshua Sek (Aus)||Row 60 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Gilbert Gutowski (Aus)||Row 61 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Callan Douglas (Aus)||Row 62 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Hal Hunter (Aus)||Row 63 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Kelly Carter (Aus)||Row 64 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Ashleigh Key (Aus)||Row 65 - Cell 2|
|DNS||Nathan Booth (Aus) Phoenix Cycling Collective||Row 66 - Cell 2|
|DNS||Russell Gill (Aus)||Row 67 - Cell 2|
|DNS||Sean Lake (Aus) Bennelong SwissWellness||Row 68 - Cell 2|
|DNS||Scott Sunderland (Aus)||Row 69 - Cell 2|
|DNS||Troy Herfoss (Aus)||Row 70 - Cell 2|
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