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

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Rhys Gillett from Victoria took out the MARS sprint points championship in the race

Rhys Gillett from Victoria took out the MARS sprint points championship in the race (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Number one: Rohan Dennis from South Australia after winning the 2012 men's under 23 national road race title in Buninyong

Number one: Rohan Dennis from South Australia after winning the 2012 men's under 23 national road race title in Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Riders head past a display of bikes over the top of Mt.Buninyong

Riders head past a display of bikes over the top of Mt.Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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The men's under 23 podium (l-r): Eric Sheppard (2nd,VIC), Rohan Dennis (1st,SA) and Calvin Watson (3rd,VIC)

The men's under 23 podium (l-r): Eric Sheppard (2nd,VIC), Rohan Dennis (1st,SA) and Calvin Watson (3rd,VIC) (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Calvin Watson celebrates his bronze medal with co-Jayco/AIS rider Jay McCarthy in the home straight

Calvin Watson celebrates his bronze medal with co-Jayco/AIS rider Jay McCarthy in the home straight (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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South Australian Rohan Dennis takes out the men's under 23 road race title ahead of Victorian Eric Sheppard (partly obscured)

South Australian Rohan Dennis takes out the men's under 23 road race title ahead of Victorian Eric Sheppard (partly obscured) (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Eric Sheppard and Rohan Dennis enter the final lap of the 122.4km road race with daylight to the peloton

Eric Sheppard and Rohan Dennis enter the final lap of the 122.4km road race with daylight to the peloton (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Jay McCarthy from Queensland corners over the top of Mt.Buninyong. McCarthy would finished just out of the medals in fourth place

Jay McCarthy from Queensland corners over the top of Mt.Buninyong. McCarthy would finished just out of the medals in fourth place (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Eventual race winner, Rohan Dennis from South Australia, follows Eric Sheppard up the climb on Mt.Buninyong

Eventual race winner, Rohan Dennis from South Australia, follows Eric Sheppard up the climb on Mt.Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Rohan Dennis drags Eric Sheppard down Fiskens road and towards the finish in Buninyong

Rohan Dennis drags Eric Sheppard down Fiskens road and towards the finish in Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Victorian Thomas Palmer feels the pinch on the climb up the Midland Highway

Victorian Thomas Palmer feels the pinch on the climb up the Midland Highway (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Eric Sheppard from Victoria refills the tank on the climb up Mt.Buninyong

Eric Sheppard from Victoria refills the tank on the climb up Mt.Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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The lads from Jayco/AIS with eventual winner, Rohan Dennis (second from the right), lead the peloton up the climb of Mt.Buninyong

The lads from Jayco/AIS with eventual winner, Rohan Dennis (second from the right), lead the peloton up the climb of Mt.Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Riders from Jayco/AIS were prominent at the front heading into the final three laps

Riders from Jayco/AIS were prominent at the front heading into the final three laps (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Riders were on the attack in the concluding laps and keeping watch on others thinking the same

Riders were on the attack in the concluding laps and keeping watch on others thinking the same (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Brian McLeod from Queensland got over the top of Mt.Buninyong first enough times to win the King of the Mountains jersey at the completion to the race

Brian McLeod from Queensland got over the top of Mt.Buninyong first enough times to win the King of the Mountains jersey at the completion to the race (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Eric Sheppard from Victoria prior to escaping the peloton with Rohan Dennis and riding into a silver medal

Eric Sheppard from Victoria prior to escaping the peloton with Rohan Dennis and riding into a silver medal (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Steven Del Gallo from Victoria at the top of Mt.Buninyon. Del Gallo is a part of the improving John West Cycling Team on the domestic scene here in Australia

Steven Del Gallo from Victoria at the top of Mt.Buninyon. Del Gallo is a part of the improving John West Cycling Team on the domestic scene here in Australia (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Campbell Flakemore from Tasmania riding for the strong Genesys Wealth Advisers team in action during the men's under 23 road race

Campbell Flakemore from Tasmania riding for the strong Genesys Wealth Advisers team in action during the men's under 23 road race (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Briand McLeod leads Tim Cameron (right) and Rhys Gillett during their breakaway which got out to a minute-and-a-half at one point

Briand McLeod leads Tim Cameron (right) and Rhys Gillett during their breakaway which got out to a minute-and-a-half at one point (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Fans young and older watch the peloton roll by in Buninyong

Fans young and older watch the peloton roll by in Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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The peloton head under the Subaru archway at the start of the home straight in Buninyong

The peloton head under the Subaru archway at the start of the home straight in Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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They're off in the men's under 23 road race championship in Buninyong

They're off in the men's under 23 road race championship in Buninyong (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Race winner Rohan Dennis is congratulated by event director John Craven (centre) and commissaire Bill McMahon

Race winner Rohan Dennis is congratulated by event director John Craven (centre) and commissaire Bill McMahon (Image credit: Shane Goss)

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) TeamResult
1Rohan Dennis (SA)3:04:41
2Eric Sheppard (Vic)0:00:02
3Calvin Watson (Vic)0:01:03
4Jay McCarthy (QLD)
5Ben Grenda (Tas)0:01:12
6Blake Hose (Vic)
7Stephen Hall (Wa)
8Samuel Davis (Wa)
9Luke Fetch (Vic)
10Stuart Smith (Vic)
11Mitchell Lovelock-Fay (ACT)
12Matthew Clark (Vic)
13Oliver Kent-Spark (Vic)
14Lachlan Morton (NSW)
15Michael Crosbie (Vic)
16Alex Clements (Tas)0:01:15
17Thomas Palmer (ACT)0:01:45
18Phillip Mundy (SA)0:02:25
19Stuart Mulhern (QLD)
20Campbell Flakemore (Tas)
21Kevin Hawes (NSW)
22Alex Wohler (QLD)0:05:30
23James Mowatt (Vic)0:06:19
24Sam McCallum (Vic)
25Trenton Day (NSW)
26Scott Mcphee (SA)0:07:34
27Trent Morey (Vic)
28James Szollosi (QLD)
29Timothy Cameron (ACT)
30Jack Haig (Vic)
31Nathan Elliott (Vic)
32Damien Wright (QLD)
33Robbie Hucker (Vic)0:07:37
34Craig Hutton (NSW)0:10:09
35Lachlan Doak (Vic)0:10:44
36Danny Pulbrook (Tas)
37Nicholas Woods (NSW)
38Luke Ockerby (Tas)0:10:47
39Justin Vanstone (QLD)
40Brian Mcleod (QLD)
41Jamie Lacey (QLD)0:10:49
42Jordan Davies (NSW)0:14:49
43Merlin Spranz (SA)0:19:25
44Aaron Eynaud (Vic)0:20:28
45Rhys Gillett (Vic)0:20:31
46Stephen Bomball (ACT)0:22:54
DNFDamien Howson (SA)
DNFNick Aitken (Vic)
DNFAaron Donnelly (NSW)
DNFJordan Kerby (QLD)
DNFPatrick Lane (Vic)
DNFBenjamin Hill (NSW)
DNFBrenton Jones (Vic)
DNFJared Triggs (NSW)
DNFLachlan Ambrose (SA)
DNFJames Boal (Vic)
DNFShaun O'Callaghan (Vic)
DNFAndrew Martin (Wa)
DNFDarcy Woolley (Vic)
DNFMitchell Cooper (Vic)
DNFDouglas Freeburn (QLD)
DNFHarry Carpenter (SA)
DNFJoshua Apolony (NSW)
DNFCameron Bayly (SA)
DNFSamuel Beveridge (Vic)
DNFJoshua Blake (SA)
DNFAaron Blomeley (Vic)
DNFPeter Braunsteins (Vic)
DNFJames Butler (Vic)
DNFTrent Carman (QLD)
DNFAlex Carver (NSW)
DNFTimothy Chadwick (Vic)
DNFTaylor Charlton (QLD)
DNFAndrew Christie (Vic)
DNFLuke Collyer (NSW)
DNFAlistair Crameri (Vic)
DNFSam Crome (Vic)
DNFSteven Del Gallo (Vic)
DNFPat Drapac (Vic)
DNFJay Dutton (NSW)
DNFCallum Fagg (Tas)
DNFLuca Giacomin (Vic)
DNFJulian Hamill (NSW)
DNFBilly Hutton (NSW)
DNFCameron Ivory (NSW)
DNFJarryd Jones (Vic)
DNFRobert Kell (NSW)
DNFMatthew Lane (Vic)
DNFScott Law (NSW)
DNFAlastair Loutit (NSW)
DNFDaniel McDonald (NSW)
DNFMacauley Mulhull (NSW)
DNFConor Murtagh (Vic)
DNFDavid Parsons (SA)
DNFJoshua Prete (QLD)
DNFJames Rendall (NSW)
DNFDavid Schilg (NSW)
DNFTodd Schintler (Vic)
DNFClive Silcock (Vic)
DNFNicholas Smith (Vic)
DNFJoel Stearnes (Tas)
DNFFergus Sully (Vic)
DNFGeorge Tansley (SA)
DNFJosh Taylor (NSW)
DNFAngus Tobin (NSW)
DNFAlex Wong (NSW)
DNFPeter Wood (Vic)
DNFAdam Allen (QLD)
DNFLuke Davison (NSW)
DNFDavid Edwards (QLD)
DNFJack Beckinsale (NSW)
DNFSamuel Spokes (NSW)
DNFMitchell Codner (NSW)
DNFDaniel O'Keefe (NSW)
DNFIvan Michelin-Beard (ACT)
DNFLiam Dove (Vic)
DNFStefan Imberger (Vic)
DNFNicholas Dougall (QLD)
DNFBlaise Bourke (Vic)
DNFBen Hilleard (Vic)
DNFBrendan Johnston (NSW)
DNFJackson Law (NSW)
DNFJack Matthews (Tas)
DNFIan Richards (QLD)
DNFChris Zucchet (Vic)
DNFJarrod Coveney (NSW)
DNFRyan Macanally (QLD)

Sprint Classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rhys Gillett (Vic)15pts
2Brian McLeod (QLD)13
3Timothy Cameron (ACT)7
4Eric Sheppard (Vic)4
5Calvin Watson (Vic)4
6Rohan Dennis (SA)4
7Luke Ockerby (Tas)3
8Nicholas Dougall (QLD)2
9Jay Mccarthy (QLD)1
10Samuel Spokes (NSW)1
DNFDamien Howson (SA)3
DNFNick Aitken (Vic)3

KOM Classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Brian McLeod (QLD)18pts
2Rhys Gillett (Vic)17
3Rohan Dennis (SA)8
4Timothy Cameron (ACT)6
5Calvin Watson (Vic)4
6Eric Sheppard (Vic)2
7Jay Mccarthy (QLD)2
DNFNick Aitken (Vic)2
DNFPatrick Lane (Vic)1

 

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