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

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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Alex Hinds, Production Editor

Sydney, Australia

Alex Hinds is a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Sydney University. Growing up in the metropolitan area of the city he quickly became a bike junkie, dabbling in mountain and road riding. Alex raced on the road in his late teens, but with the time demands of work and university proving too much, decided not to further pursue full-time riding.

If he was going to be involved in cycling in another way the media seemed the next best bet and jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sydney office of Cyclingnews when an offer arose in early 2011.

Though the WorldTour is of course a huge point of focus throughout the year, Alex also takes a keen interest in the domestic racing scene with a view to helping foster the careers of the next generation of cycling.

When not writing for Cyclingnews Alex is a strong proponent of the awareness of cyclists on the road in Sydney having had a few close run-ins with city traffic in the past.

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