Australian Road Championships: Cameron Meyer defends elite men's road race title

Cameron Meyer (Team BikeExchange) defended his elite men’s road race title at the 2021 Federation University Road National Championships, winning from a group of seven after an unpredictable final couple of laps where the rider in pole position to take the top step seemed to change from moment to moment.

Kelland O’Brien (InForm TMX Make) came second in the 185.6 kilometre race while Scott Bowden came third from a group of seven that continued to battle and swap position right up to the line. Meyer was an emotional winner last year when he secured the title after so many near misses and was beaming after taking it a second time.  

“Every lap I thought I was in trouble, this isn’t going to happen. Somehow the best teammate you can have, Luke Durbridge, popped up there right at the end, saved me, brought me to the line and I just pulled on the experience that I had in the finish there. I think that is what won it for me. I have done that sprint a fair few times, lost it, and I just got the timing right and somehow pulled off a miracle today,” said Meyer.

The fortunes of Team BikeExchange fluctuated throughout the race, with Australia's only WorldTour squad getting off to a good start with a strong presence in the early break. Then later they were on the back foot, with InForm TMX Make holding the cards, particularly with Luke Plapp and Kelland O’Brien putting pressure on out the front. However they came out on top when it mattered, winning the final race of the Australian Road Championships to make it two elite men's titles at the event, with Kaden Groves taking the criterium win on Friday.

How it unfolded

It was a big early break in the 16 lap race on the course near Ballarat, which includes a climb of Mount Buninyong and the twists and turns of the roads around Federation University. The initial break of nine included strong players like Team BikeExchange’s Damien Howson and was dangerous enough that others decided to make the leap across as well, which meant the group continued to grow until it numbered around 16.

However, even before the race was at the half way point attacks came from the swelling group with track rider Sam Welsford leaping out of the front and 2020 National Road Series winner Brendan Johnston (CCS Cycling Team) joining him. In the meantime the peloton drew closer to the initial break, which as a result adjusted and changed, with some falling off the back and others, such as Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) and Luke Plapp (Inform TMX Make) bridging across.

Then at 64 kilometres to go, with nearly a third of the race left, the 20-year-old rider who had decided to join the elite ranks early after a stellar performance at the Santos Festival of Cycling, made his move. Plapp joined Johnston and his track, but not Nationals, teammate Welsford up the front. It wasn’t long before Plapp dropped them too, out the front solo with 55 kilometres to go and quickly pulling the gap out beyond a minute. 

The remaining contenders sensed danger and ramped up the pace and by the third last climb there was a chasing group starting to close the gap to the lone leader and that group included Harper, Meyer, Kelland O’Brien and Mark O’Brien (InForm TMX Make), Sebastian Berwick (Israel Start-up Nation) and Jesse Ewart (Team Sapura). 

It wasn’t long until Harper took off out the front of that group, with Kelland O’Brien jumping onto his wheel and later Berwick too. They caught the previously solo Plapp to make it a group of four out the front, for a little while at least. Plapp, who hadn’t before tackled the longer distances of the elite men’s race, and Berwick ran out of steam.

Then after the bell rang for the final lap Kelland O’Brien took off by himself, dropping Harper, of all places, at the start of the climb though he couldn’t hold off the chase for long. When it came down to five kilometres to the line it was nine riders together, Kelland O’Brien, Mark O’Brien, Harper, Meyer, Durbridge, Ewart, James Whelan (EF Education-Nippo), Nicholas White (Team BridgeLane) and Timothy Roe (Cervelo-Tonsley Village).

Roe crashed on one of the final corners holding up Mark O’Brien in the process and leaving it down to seven to make that final dash. Whelan spectacularly catapulted off the front on the final straight but it ended up being  too early and he was swamped as the other riders wound up to sprint.

“When you have had a hard race like that you don’t have much left. You have literally probably got 50 to 100 metres left in the legs before they start cramping. You could just see everyone sitting down just hoping the line would come,” said Meyer. “Young Kell went, Nick White went and that is who I had to get to go first, run at them, try and go to the line at the last second and win by just the smallest of margins so I timed it right.” 

 White came in fourth, behind O’Brien and Bowden.

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cameron Meyer (Aus) 4:39:12
2Kelland O'Brien (Aus)
3Scott Bowden (Aus)
4Nicholas White (Aus)
5Jesse Ewart (Aus)
6James Whelan (Aus) 0:00:04
7Luke Durbridge (Aus)
8Mark O'Brien (Aus) 0:00:08
9Timothy roe (Aus) 0:00:10
10Chris Harper (Aus) 0:01:44
11Sebastian Berwick (Aus) 0:02:12
12Drew Morey (Aus) 0:02:57
13Tasman Nankervis (Aus)
14Nathan Earle (Aus)
15Lionel Mawditt (Aus)
16Samuel Jenner (Aus) 0:03:00
17Lucas Plapp (Aus) 0:03:37
18Samuel Hill (Aus) 0:08:30
19Alastair Christie-Johnston (Aus)
20Mathew Ross (Aus) 0:09:36
21Liam White (Aus)
22Aidan Buttigieg (Aus)
23Brent Rees (Aus)
24Joshua Wilson (Aus)
25Jack Aitken (Aus)
26Oliver Stenning (Aus)
27Marcus Culey (Aus)
28Sam Crome (Aus)
29Sebastian Presley (Aus)
30Cyrus Monk (Aus)
31Brendan Johnston (Aus)
32Rylee Field (Aus)
33Benjamin Dyball (Aus)
34Reece Tucknott (Aus)
35Dylan Mckenna (Aus)
36Robbie Hucker (Aus)
DNFAlexander Edmondson (Aus)
DNFLucas Hamilton (Aus)
DNFKaden Groves (Aus)
DNFDamien Howson (Aus)
DNFAyden Toovey (Aus)
DNFBen van dam (Aus)
DNFAngus Lyons (Aus)
DNFAlistair Donohoe (Aus)
DNFMichael Rice (Aus)
DNFRyan Thomas (Aus)
DNFKane Richards (Aus)
DNFSamuel Volkers (Aus)
DNFIven Bennett (Aus)
DNFLeigh Phillips (Aus)
DNFThomas Bolton (Aus)
DNFCallum Pearce (Aus)
DNFBentley Niquet-olden (Aus)
DNFCarter Bettles (Aus)
DNFRyan Cavanagh (Aus)
DNFBrenton Jones (Aus)
DNFJordan Villani (Aus)
DNFDylan Lindsey (Aus)
DNFAlexander Holden (Aus)
DNFWilliam Hodges (Aus)
DNFSteele von Hoff (Aus)
DNFJordan Louis (Aus)
DNFBrendon Green (Aus)
DNFPatrick Saccani-williams (Aus)
DNFJacob Langham (Aus)
DNFHarley Moore (Aus)
DNFMichael Harris (Aus)
DNFDaniel Luke (Aus)
DNFRylan Dowdell (Aus)
DNFCurtis Dowdell (Aus)
DNFJason Thomason (Aus)
DNFCameron Ivory (Aus)
DNFTristan Dimmock (Aus)
DNFAdam Nelson (Aus)
DNFBrayden Clews-proctor (Aus)
DNFToby Stewart (Aus)
DNFTom Chester (Aus)
DNFLucas Hoffman (Aus)
DNFSam Greenwood (Aus)
DNFMatt Burton (Aus)
DNFCameron Fraser (Aus)
DNFTim Cutler (Aus)
DNFDean Madden (Aus)
DNFGiovanni Ross (Aus)
DNFMatthew Sparnon (Aus)
DNFPeter Wakefield (Aus)
DNFDarren Benson (Aus)
DNFAlex Durrant-Whyte (Aus)
DNFJosh Abbey (Aus)
DNFHarrison Cleary (Aus)
DNFStuart Smith (Aus)
DNFChris Hargreaves (Aus)
DNFBen Hilleard (Aus)
DNFMatthew Byrne (Aus)
DNFAngus Calder (Aus)
DNFDeclan Wharton (Aus)
DNFLewis Bull (Aus)
DNFKelly Carter (Aus)
DNFJohn Davis (Aus)
DNFRobert Doyle (Aus)
DNFAlex Edney (Aus)
DNFGarry Millburn (Aus)
DNFJames Mortimer (Aus)
DNFChristopher Panozzo (Aus)
DNFOliver Penney (Aus)
DNFAlexander Porter (Aus)
DNFHamish Webber (Aus)
DNFSam Welsford (Aus)
DNFDaniel Wood (Aus)
DNFHayden James (Aus)
DNSSteven Robb (Aus)
DNSPeter Milostic (Aus)
DNSMatthew Sherwin (Aus)
DNSDavid Frazer (Aus)
DNSStuart Darling (Aus)
DNSOliver James (Aus)
DNSDaniel Mcconnell (Aus)
DNSConnor Rate (Aus)

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