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Gerrans crowned Australian Road Champion in last lap thriller at Buninyong

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Victorian Simon Gerrans takes out the 2012 men's elite national road race championship in Buninyong.

Victorian Simon Gerrans takes out the 2012 men's elite national road race championship in Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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The race was still up for grabs between several riders nearing the final two laps.

The race was still up for grabs between several riders nearing the final two laps. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Bernard Sulzberger bridged the gap to the leading trio on Mt.Buninyong but would he have the legs to remain with them?

Bernard Sulzberger bridged the gap to the leading trio on Mt.Buninyong but would he have the legs to remain with them? (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Simon Gerrans out sprints Matt Lloyd (far left) and Richie Porte to take the title.

Simon Gerrans out sprints Matt Lloyd (far left) and Richie Porte to take the title. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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(Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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The big Tasmanian Will Clarke took out the MARS sprint points competition.

The big Tasmanian Will Clarke took out the MARS sprint points competition. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Race winner Simon Gerrans releases the champers on the podium in Buninyong.

Race winner Simon Gerrans releases the champers on the podium in Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Oh yeah, you little beauty! Simon Gerrans enjoys the spoils of a gold medal on the podium with Matt Lloyd (left) and Richie Porte.

Oh yeah, you little beauty! Simon Gerrans enjoys the spoils of a gold medal on the podium with Matt Lloyd (left) and Richie Porte. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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The sky is the limit for Richie Porte (left) and Michael Rogers on the startline in Buninyong.

The sky is the limit for Richie Porte (left) and Michael Rogers on the startline in Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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They're away in the 163km national elite men's road race championship in Buninyong, Victoria.

They're away in the 163km national elite men's road race championship in Buninyong, Victoria. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Michael Rogers speeds around the top of Mt.Buninyong.

Michael Rogers speeds around the top of Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Michael Matthews makes his way over the top of Mt.Buninyong.

Michael Matthews makes his way over the top of Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Matt Goss, second last year behind solo breakaway Jack Bobridge, but with bigger fish to fry in the season ahead kept his distance from the front in 2012.

Matt Goss, second last year behind solo breakaway Jack Bobridge, but with bigger fish to fry in the season ahead kept his distance from the front in 2012. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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A telly-tubby impersonator shows some support for Jonathan Cantwell and Nathan Haas on Mt.Buninyong.

A telly-tubby impersonator shows some support for Jonathan Cantwell and Nathan Haas on Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Stuart O'Grady and Matthew Hayman on the Midland Highway out in front with GreenEDGE's Shayne Bannan (right) and Aussie cycling legend Phil Anderson (far left) looking on.

Stuart O'Grady and Matthew Hayman on the Midland Highway out in front with GreenEDGE's Shayne Bannan (right) and Aussie cycling legend Phil Anderson (far left) looking on. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Simon Gerrans acknowledges support in the crowd before a post-race interview with SBS reporter Sophie Smith.

Simon Gerrans acknowledges support in the crowd before a post-race interview with SBS reporter Sophie Smith. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Race winner Simon Gerrans awaits TV commitments and photographer's flashes in Buninyong.

Race winner Simon Gerrans awaits TV commitments and photographer's flashes in Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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The men's elite podium (l-r): Matt Lloyd (2nd), Simon Gerrans (1st) and Richie Porte (3rd).

The men's elite podium (l-r): Matt Lloyd (2nd), Simon Gerrans (1st) and Richie Porte (3rd). (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Simon Gerrans tries to sneak away from the lead group on the climb up Mt.Buninyong.

Simon Gerrans tries to sneak away from the lead group on the climb up Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Matthew Hayman leads a select group up the Midland Highway nearing the final three laps.

Matthew Hayman leads a select group up the Midland Highway nearing the final three laps. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Luke Durbridge and Heinrich Haussler have plenty of support ahead of them on the climb up Mt.Buninyong.

Luke Durbridge and Heinrich Haussler have plenty of support ahead of them on the climb up Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Luke Durbridge signs an Aussie jersey prior to the road race in Buninyong.

Luke Durbridge signs an Aussie jersey prior to the road race in Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Matt Keenan of SBS chats with rising sprinter Michael Matthews before the 163km race.

Matt Keenan of SBS chats with rising sprinter Michael Matthews before the 163km race. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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GreenEDGE's Shayne Bannan (left) chats with Genensys Wealth Adviser's Andrew Christie-Johnston in Buninyong.

GreenEDGE's Shayne Bannan (left) chats with Genensys Wealth Adviser's Andrew Christie-Johnston in Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Michael Rogers (left) with Matt Lloyd on the startline in Buninyong.

Michael Rogers (left) with Matt Lloyd on the startline in Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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The peloton complete lap one of the sixteen lap race in Buninyong, the lap was also the fastest of the day.

The peloton complete lap one of the sixteen lap race in Buninyong, the lap was also the fastest of the day. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Wes Sulzberger from Tasmanian in action at the top of the climb up Mt.Buninyong.

Wes Sulzberger from Tasmanian in action at the top of the climb up Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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One of the world's finest lead-out riders and sprinters Mark Renshaw now with the Rabobank outfit at the top of Mt.Buninyong.

One of the world's finest lead-out riders and sprinters Mark Renshaw now with the Rabobank outfit at the top of Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Matt Lloyd is a former national road champion here and did well to make the podium again in 2012.

Matt Lloyd is a former national road champion here and did well to make the podium again in 2012. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Stuart O'Grady rode strongly to aid his GreenEDGE teammates and set up a win for Simon Gerrans.

Stuart O'Grady rode strongly to aid his GreenEDGE teammates and set up a win for Simon Gerrans. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Richie Porte (right) and Baden Cooke working hard at the front on Mt.Buninyong.

Richie Porte (right) and Baden Cooke working hard at the front on Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Heinrich Haussler gets into the tuck position on a downhill section of the course approaching the home straight.

Heinrich Haussler gets into the tuck position on a downhill section of the course approaching the home straight. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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No time for sausages for these boys on the climb up Mt.Buninyong.

No time for sausages for these boys on the climb up Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Matt Lloyd leads a pack up Mt.Buninyong as a punter gets into position to get his picture.

Matt Lloyd leads a pack up Mt.Buninyong as a punter gets into position to get his picture. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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An elite group of riders formed at the front early into the race.

An elite group of riders formed at the front early into the race. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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The big engine of Adam Hansen gets over the top of Mt.Buninyong.

The big engine of Adam Hansen gets over the top of Mt.Buninyong. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Simon Gerrans from Victoria was a popular winner of the gold medal in the men's elite road race.

Simon Gerrans from Victoria was a popular winner of the gold medal in the men's elite road race. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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The men's elite podium (l-r): Matt Lloyd (2nd), Simon Gerrans (1st) and Richie Porte (3rd).

The men's elite podium (l-r): Matt Lloyd (2nd), Simon Gerrans (1st) and Richie Porte (3rd). (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Simon Gerrans from Victoria was a popular winner of the gold medal in the men's elite road race.

Simon Gerrans from Victoria was a popular winner of the gold medal in the men's elite road race. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)

Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) as one of Australia's best cyclists over the last decade has been rewarded for his exploits, winning Sunday's Australian Road National Championship from Matthew Lloyd (Lampre-ISD) and Richie Porte (Sky).

"This is one of my proudest moments in cycling," Gerrans said having completed the 163.2 kilometre race in a time of 4:07:38.
For Gerrans, who won the national under 23 title in 2002 and was the bronze medallist in the 2011 edition of the championships, today's result was just reward given the 31-year-old also has the honour of being the only Australian to have won a stage in all of the Grand Tours.

"This is well and truly up there," the Victorian explained when asked where the win sat in comparison to some of his grand achievements. "It's such a proud moment to be Australian Champion and I'm just going to wear this jersey with pride for the next 12 months."

Lloyd, silver medallist on the day and a former winner of the title, was most appreciative of the result.

"I was mega-stoked for Simon and Richie because it's a race that's very special and that jersey, once you've got it you can never take it away," he explained. "It's beautiful to see."

The win marked the first for his new team with the road race an important goal for the UCI WorldTour neophytes as they embark on the 2012 season – the pressure always on GreenEdge to ensure one of their key men would wear the green and gold bands at the biggest races in Europe.

With 16 men lining up for the team at Buninyong, GreenEdge definitely had an advantage in numbers where their opponents did not but Gerrans admitted that with their head start came extra pressure "to try and win the race and really utilise the guys that we had."

Bronze medallist Porte paid compliments to GreenEdge, but also spoke of the hard work by new teammates at Sky, Mathew Hayman, Michael Rogers and Chris Sutton who were all still in the mix on the final lap.

"We had quality, not quantity," Porte explained. "Mathew Hayman just kept coming back and Chris Sutton was probably the fastest guy at the finish and then Mick as well. It's such a good team but hats off to GreenEdge. They used their numbers well and it's Simon who deserves it the most... In all respects."

A closed race to foreign riders in 2012, Gerrans said that the decision taken by race organiser John Craven had been vindicated by the standard of racing on show, but did not deny that it helped the chances of GreenEdge.

"It worked in our favour at GreenEdge because we've got so many Aussies," he admitted. "If foreigners were allowed to race it might have boosted the teams like Sky and Rabobank.

"I think we've got a worthy enough field to have a world class national championships with just Australians so there's no need for foreigners in the race anymore."

In arguably the best racing ever witnessed at the national championships, the race did not have a clear winner until the last of the gruelling 16 laps of the 10.1 kilometre Buninyong course, which had seen the field decimated from the opening circuit where GreenEdge immediately went on the attack through defending champion Jack Bobridge and Luke Durbridge.

For some time, it appeared as though Gerrans' teammate Cameron Meyer would be the man for the win with the 23-year-old producing a mammoth solo effort with around 100 kilometres of racing already completed, staying away until appearing to bonk inside the final three laps. Gerrans said that the race became "an even playing field" at that point.

"We had the same amount of guys in the front as a lot of other teams and it was pretty much every team for themselves and we lost our advantage in numbers," he explained. "It was a lot of hard work to win the race."

At the end of 15 laps, 23 riders were still in contention for the title and Gerrans, who had gone into the race as the GreenEdge's protected man, was the first man to launch an attack on the start of the climb with Lloyd following his wheel. Porte decided that he too should make a run for the finish soon after, and time trialled across the gap to eventually reach the lead pair with a kilometre to go.

Seeing the Sky kit in the distance, Gerrans actually thought it was Porte's teammate who was also in the chase group, Chris Sutton coming after he and Lloyd.

"I was doing a lot of looking over my shoulder and I thought that CJ was doing a heck of a strong ride but it turns out it was a time trialist in Richie," said Gerrans.

Both Lloyd and Porte joked post-race about the ‘sprint' for the minor placings, while Gerrans was always confident in victory given his opponents.

"You will never see me sprint faster in my life," laughed Lloyd.

How it unfolded

An all-Australian field rolled out for the first time in Buninyong for the elite men’s road race, and with the presence of GreenEdge, the countries’ first top tier team, it was always going to be an historic day.

The riders seemed to realise this as well, because almost seconds after start gun went, ably done by a colonial musketman, a group of three riders jumped off the front of the bunch.

They were Luke Durbridge, Jack Bobridge (both GreenEdge) and Nathan Haas (Garmin-Cervelo).

Their gap hovered over the 30-second mark, and for nearly two laps they appeared to be starting something that wouldn’t come back. Two junior would time trial champions and one of the hottest prospects in Australian cycling at the moment in Haas.

But with the chase behind in earnest, the peloton seemed unhappy with the trio ahead, and by the start of lap 3 things were once more together.

The next move was instigated by none other than Stuart O’Grady. The 2003 national champion pulled away mid way through the third lap with his former Leopard teammate Will Clarke (Champion System).

The two worked well together before being joined by Pat Shaw (Genesys) to form another strong group of three. Shaw, a native of Ballarat, was super motivated to make a mark and he did not disappoint.

70 kilometres in and the peloton had well and truly shattered behind. The frenetic pace meant that three chase groups of around 20 riders followed the lead trio who still held a small margin at the front.

Shortly after the leaders of Shaw, O’Grady, and Clarke were joined by several other riders including Cameron Meyer, Durbridge, Bernard Sulzberger, Wes Sulzberger, Richie Porte, Jai Crawford, Heinrich Haussler, Simon Gerrans and many more.

Again GreenEdge was well represented, and seemed content to tap out the tempo at the front. Leigh Howard was prevalent, as was Durbridge with both being used as the team quite obviously as sacrificial lambs for the more favoured riders on the team.

One of the pre-race favourites Matt Goss wasn’t in the selection ahead, and after too-and-froing in the chase decided to call it quits.

As the laps ticked down there were attacks after attacks. The break seemed reluctant to form, but finally one did including Clarke and Shaw again, Matt Wilson, Wes Sulzberger, Bernard Sulzberger, Durbridge, Cameron Meyer, and Mark Renshaw – who was climbing out of his skin.

This move looked to be the winning one. Durbridge, W. Sulzberger and Wilson went to the front and hammered the group, while Meyer sat on looking very ominous. Their advantage never ballooned out however.

Sensing that the time was right to try something different, Cameron Meyer and Matt Wilson jumped away on the grippier part of the climb, and quickly built an advantage of a minute to the chase.

Behind things were getting interesting as well with a larger chase – made from the remainder of the peloton forming more than 30 riders, bearing down on the leaders.

Wilson disappeared from the front when Meyer’s pace was too much, leaving the time trial champion to do just that.

Meyer’s gap went to over two minutes. But he was facing a long road to the finish if he was to win. He looked smooth though, and realizing the danger Haussler decided to try and cross the gap alone.

Getting a free tow from Haussler was Durbridge who seemed to be everywhere, and on a super day.

Disaster struck for Meyer just when he seemed like he was going to extend his advantage to something insurmountable. Put it down to youthful exuberance, but he failed to eat and bonked big time with around 35 kilometres to go.

Painfully for Haussler, the same lap he caught Meyer, the peloton caught him, and things were once again all together.

O’Grady, who was clearly on a flyer of a day, went almost as soon as the catch happened. This time it was Mathew Hayman who linked up with him. The duo worked well together, but again the move was brought back.

It was into the final 18 kilometres now, and for the remaining climbers that signaled the time to launch an all-out assault.

Matthew Lloyd appeared for the first time in the race when he launced a big move, and he was quickly followed by Simon Gerrans, and Richie Porte.

Chris Sutton was surprising plenty of people as he bridged, and Bernard Sulzberger joined them to make a group of five.

As the final lap loomed, things came back together once more, and just as they did Lloyd, Gerrans and Porte went again. This time it was the big one and with the small peloton cramping like there was tomorrow, the three disappeared.

On the false flat Lloyd went again with Gerrans leaving Porte just behind. The Sky rider was forced to go into full time trial mode to get back in contact, which he did and with two to go they were a group of three guaranteed a medal, but still fighting for the one that mattered.

It came down to a sprint, and unsurprisingly; it was Gerrans who triumphed over his compatriots, by far the fastest finisher of the three. It was his first national title, and a great end to the weekend for his new team GreenEdge, who picked up the women’s title as well yesterday.

Results

Full Results
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Simon Gerrans (Vic)4:07:38
2Matthew Lloyd (Vic)0:00:02
3Richie Porte (Tas)
4Adam Hansen (QLD)0:01:05
5William Clarke (Tas)0:01:09
6Steele Von Hoff (Vic)0:01:11
7Christopher Sutton (NSW)
8Baden Cooke (Vic)
9Anthony Giacoppo (WA)
10Bernard Sulzberger (Tas)
11Daniel McConnell (Vic)
12Mark O'brien (Vic)
13Ben Dyball (NSW)0:01:17
14Zakkari Dempster (Vic)0:01:37
15Luke Roberts (SA)
16Jay Bourke (Vic)0:01:38
17Michael Rogers (Act)
18Mathew Hayman (NSW)0:03:24
19Jai Crawford (Tas)0:06:28
20Neil Van Der Ploeg (Vic)0:11:32
21Jason Spencer (Vic)
DNFJack Bobridge (SA)
DNFCameron Meyer (WA)
DNFJonathan Cantwell (QLD)
DNFMatthew Goss (Tas)
DNFRobbie McEwen (QLD)
DNFStuart O'Grady (O/S)
DNFMatt Wilson (Vic)
DNFTravis Meyer (WA)
DNFAllan Davis (QLD)
DNFHeinrich Haussler (NSW)
DNFMichael Matthews (Act)
DNFMark Renshaw (NSW)
DNFNathan Haas (Act)
DNFSimon Clarke (Vic)
DNFLuke Durbridge (WA)
DNFLeigh Howard (Vic)
DNFChris Jongewaard (SA)
DNFJoel Pearson (Vic)
DNFPatrick Shaw (Vic)
DNFWesley Sulzberger (O/S)
DNFJohnnie Walker (Vic)
DNFChris Jory (NSW)
DNFJosh Collingwood (Vic)
DNFDean Windsor (NSW)
DNFMichael Hepburn (QLD)
DNFMitchell Docker (Vic)
DNFDarren Rolfe (QLD)
DNFDamien Turner (Vic)
DNFNicholas SAnderson (Vic)
DNFAndrew Roe (SA)
DNFRichard Lang (NSW)
DNFPhillip Grenfell (NSW)
DNFJonathan Lovelock (Vic)
DNFBrodie Talbot (NSW)
DNFBenjamin Johnson (Vic)
DNFSAmuel Rix (Vic)
DNFCorrey Edmed (QLD)
DNFNick Bensley (Vic)
DNFJacob Kauffmann (NSW)
DNFAdnane Benhammouche (SA)
DNFMatthew Warner-Smith (NSW)
DNFDavid Pell (Vic)
DNFLuke Aggett (Vic)
DNFAndrew Arundel (Act)
DNFAndrew Blair (NSW)
DNFEtienne Blumstein-Jones (Act)
DNFNicholas Brain (NSW)
DNFCal Britten (Vic)
DNFHayden Brooks (QLD)
DNFFabio Calabria (Act)
DNFJoshua Carlson (NSW)
DNFKel Chaffey-Jones (Vic)
DNFJason Chalker (Act)
DNFDane Crawford (NSW)
DNFAndrew Crawley (NSW)
DNFConan Daley (Vic)
DNFAnthony Dimotrovski (NSW)
DNFBenjamin Douglas (Vic)
DNFPeter English (Vic)
DNFSean Finning (Vic)
DNFJoel Finucane (NSW)
DNFMitchell Flynn (Act)
DNFTravis Frisby (SA)
DNFJohn Groves (Vic)
DNFJames Henry (Vic)
DNFJames Hepburn (QLD)
DNFAdrian Jackson (Vic)
DNFMark Jamesion (QLD)
DNFKris Johnston (Act)
DNFCaleb Jones (NSW)
DNFBrenton Kaitler (Vic)
DNFJohn Kent (Vic)
DNFJason Kruger (Vic)
DNFPeter Ladd (Vic)
DNFDarren Lapthorne (Vic)
DNFWilliam Lind (NSW)
DNFJake Magee (NSW)
DNFJames Mcdulling (NSW)
DNFJohnathan Millington (NSW)
DNFNicholas Mitchell (Vic)
DNFJustin Morris (NSW)
DNFJamie Nightingale (Vic)
DNFLachlan Norris (Vic)
DNFTravers Nuttall (Vic)
DNFRyan Obst (SA)
DNFChris Pescott (Vic)
DNFCameron Peterson (NSW)
DNFOliver Phillips (Vic)
DNFRhys Pollock (NSW)
DNFJames Quinton (Act)
DNFJeremy Ross (Act)
DNFMalcolm Rudolph (QLD)
DNFSam Rutherford (NSW)
DNFGraham Rutter (NSW)
DNFDean SAnfilippo (Vic)
DNFDale Scarfe (NSW)
DNFAdam Semple (WA)
DNFStuart Shaw (Act)
DNFPeter Smith (Vic)
DNFMichael Smith (Tas)
DNFAlexander Smyth (Vic)
DNFNicholas Squillari (Vic)
DNFReece Stephens (Vic)
DNFSam Stow (Vic)
DNFTomas Szollosi (QLD)
DNFPeter Thompson (QLD)
DNFAdam Trewin (Vic)
DNFMichael Troy (NSW)
DNFPaul Van Der Ploeg (Vic)
DNFSteven Waite (Vic)
DNFWill Wettenhall (Vic)
DNFEdward White (NSW)
DNFGraeme Brown (WA)
DNFShaun Mccarthy (Vic)
DNFMarc Williams (Act)
DNFBlair Windsor (NSW)
DNFSam Witmitz (Vic)
DNFTony Gaudry (Act)
DNFSimon Bennett (Vic)

KOM winner
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge)

Sprints winner
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Will Clarke (Champion System)

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