Can Simon Gerrans make history and ‘do the treble’ in the Herald-Sun Tour?
Over at The Roar, I’m asking whether Simon Gerrans can become the first man to win the national road race championships, the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour, and the Tour Down Under in the same year.
“The question is: has his focus already shifted to the spring classics and in particular Milan-San Remo?
Gerrans has been in amazing shape for four weeks already. If he can hold it for five more days he stands to achieve arguably the greatest feat of cycling on Australian soil.
Would anyone bet against him?’
The Australian Championships were held in Ballarat last week. I managed to attend the men’s elite road race, which gathered an outstanding field of ProTour riders.
The race was won by Orica-GreenEdge star Simon Gerrans, from a three-man selection including Cadel Evans (BMC) and Richie Porte (Sky).
Gerrans used the excellent support provided by his team-mate Cameron Meyer (who launched a late attack and then drove the pace for Gerrans, allowing him to sit on Evans and Porte, saving energy) to perfection.
Having the national title decided from arguably the three top Australian riders of the moment was a rare treat for the crowd, and the buzz at the finish was extraordinary.
It was a great day out, with a brilliant vibe along the side of the road, and some excellent hard racing.
The sheer numerical advantage that Orica-GreenEdge has means it’s always in the box seat for the win, but this year Drapac had a good shot, controlling the race for a long period. Ultimately though, the World Tour team simply had too much firepower for the Pro Continental team to handle.
Some of the other elite riders without strong team support, the likes of Cadel Evans, Richie Porte, Adam Hansen, Steel Von Hoff, and Jack Bobridge, tried hard but when it comes down to it, the best team usually wins.
The Mitchelton Bay Crit series is on this week along the coast to the west of Melbourne, predominantly around Geelong and Williamstown. It’s a great last-minute tune up for racers competing in the National Road Championships, and also a very early season hit-out for other top Aussie professionals riding for World Tour or Pro Continental squads. I headed down to Geelong’s Eastern Park to catch Stage 2 of the race, and snapped some photos and video to capture the scene.
While the Northern Hemisphere pros are stuck inside on trainers, or getting muddy in cyclocross races, the Aussies are lucky enough to get warm conditions and some early opportunities to burn the off-season away. As a result this series attracts some big name international riders, including Orica-GreenEdge stars Matt Goss (who won this stage), Luke Durbridge, Leigh Howard, Michael Hepburn and Mitch Docker. Garmin-Sharp’s sprinter Steele Von Hoff also made an appearance, along with newly-uncontracted former Orica-GreenEdge sprinter Allan Davis. There were also plenty of up-and-coming riders including Caleb Ewan, and local talent from the Australian National Road Series (NRS).
Matt Goss claimed the victory after a strong team performance from his Orica-GreenEdge team. Luke Durbridge was particularly aggressive throughout the race, but Michael Hepburn and Mitch Docker were also active. Leigh Howard finished third, behind young sensation (and future GreenEdge rider) Caleb Ewan (Subaru-NSWIS).
The women’s Elite field was equally star-studded, fielding former world champion Giorgia Bronzini and her Wiggle-Honda team; the world’s #1 ranked women’s team Orica-AIS; Specialized-Securitor; and Team Vanderkitten.
Stage winner Chloe Hosking (Roxsolt) surprised Bronzini with an early sprint to grab victory, with track star Annette Edmondson (Orica-AIS) third. Gracie Elvin, riding for the Australian national team, and former Orica-AIS rider Tiffany Cromwell (newly signed with Specialized-Securitor) completed the top five.
All in all it was a fun day of spectating and an easy way to catch some of the best riders in the world. I definitely recommend checking the race out if you live in or around Melbourne.
Bay Crits men’s elite video
Cromwell attacks out wide
Cromwell leads the bunch
Wiggle-Honda did a good job of controlling the race for Bronzini, but it wasn’t to be.
The women’s bunch.
Tiffany Cromwell follows the wheel intently
Orica-AIS were prominent all day
Steele Von Hoff working through the pack
Michael Hepburn on the attack.
The men’s elite field crests the short climb before the finish.
Durbridge leads early
The women’s bunch held together until the finish