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Sutton proves favourite tag true with bike-length win in the Gong

Chris Sutton (Sky) was a comfortable winner in the Skoda Men's Grand Prix in Wollongong today, launching a well-timed sprint in the final 100 metres that was simply too good for series rivals Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Ben Kersten (Jayco-2XU).

"I put it down to freshness really." said Sutton at the end of a successful day for the Vuelta stage winner. "I got a really easy ride, it was a bit dangerous with Matthews away for a while there, but when we brought it back Jeremy [Hunt] just rode on the front to take me home.

"It makes it a lot easier when you only have to touch the wind in the final 100 metres. It's pretty much impossible to be passed in that situation, but I'm really thankful for the work of Jeremy today."

Third placed Ben Kersten, who only arrived in Wollongong an hour before the race start was encouraged by his result, but hopes to be on the top step of the podium tomorrow.

"It was really important to get the racing in the legs today," said Kersten. "You can't bank on races like today ending in a sprint, just with the calibre of guys racing, so I had to play my cards perfectly.

"Obviously I would've liked to have won today in my town, but I'm hungry for tomorrow. We'll just see what happens."

How it unfolded

The recently re-paved Flagstaff Hill course was a perfect setting for true "Grand Prix" racing with speeds in excess of 50 km/h held by the riders throughout.

Early on it was Dean Windsor, Michael Troy and Graeme Brown who animated things. The trio established the first major break of the day, and after three laps of building an advantage the danger of the three staying away was recognised by a number of the other favourites, with Sutton, Richard Lang (Jayco-AIS) and Adam Phelan (Drapac) making the effort to bridge.

With too many strong riders in the escape the bunch which had in reality never stopped chasing, absorbed the break with 30 laps to go.

A failed solo move from Jayco-AIS rider Aaron Donnelly prompted two riders, Jackson Law (NSWIS) and Michael Matthews (Rabobank) to have a go, and over the next 10 laps must've had some in the main bunch thinking the race had gotten away

Not Sky though. Sutton's teammate Jeremy Hunt, who had been riding a steady tempo on the front of the main-field never panicked and little-by-little brought the break back.

In the final five laps, the speeds ramped up and GreenEdge recruit Jens Mouris (Vacansoliel-DCM) and prodigious climber Lachlan Morton (Chipotle) tried to anticipate the sprint. Hunt however was having none of it, and with laps counting down extremely quickly things were set for a bunch dash.

The order rounding the final lap (660 metres to go) was Hunt, Brown, Sutton, Matthews, Kersten, and Lang. Matthews jumped early as Hunt's effort finally took their toll, but Sutton was perfectly placed and after getting himself on the young sprinters wheel surged home for a well-earned victory.

Brown never seemed to have the speed to pass Sutton, and along with Kersten followed the Sky rider's wheel to take the podium spots.

Chris Sutton will wear the blue series leader's jersey in Cronulla tomorrow.

All riders were awarded 10 points for participation in Wollongong.

Škoda Men’s NSW Grand Prix Event 1 Wollongong
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chris Sutton (Team Sky)20pts
2Graeme Brown (Rabobank)18
3Ben Kersten (Team Jayco-2XU)16
4Richard Lang (Jayco AIS)15
5Caleb Ewan (NSWIS)14
6Dean Windsor (Rapha Condor Sharp)13
7Nash Kent (Lidcombe)12
8Adam Phelan (Drapac Cycling Team)11

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