News: Spratt and Dennis (U23) winners in Aussie Road Champs

Reports from Cycling Australia for the Women’s and Under 23 RR Championships

In under 23 men’s action South Australia’s Rohan Dennis claimed his first Australian road race crown today with victory in the under 23 men’s event at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Buninyong.

Dennis, who is a member of Australia’s 2011 world champion pursuit team, covered the 122.4 kilometres in 3.04:41 to claim the green and gold champion’s jersey ahead of Victoria’s Eric Sheppard after the pair broke away from the field with two laps remaining.

Dennis’ Jayco-AIS teammate Calvin Watson crossed the line one minute and three seconds later to claim the bronze medal from a Jay McCarthy, also Jayco-AIS, who placed fourth.

“I have been working for this for a few years now and it is the first national road race I have ever won,” said 21 year old Dennis. “I can’t really put it in words right now – I am just overwhelmed really.”

The pace was on from the first of twelve laps of the 10.2km course, with Queensland’s Brian McLeod, Victoria’s Rhys Gillett and Canberra’s Tim Cameron breaking away at the top of the first climb.

The trio held their lead for over half the race, stretching their lead over the main bunch to almost two minutes.

On the seventh lap they were absorbed by a determined peloton being driven by Team Jayco-AIS, with Pat Lane leading the charge despite showing visible affects of a crash in last week’s Jayco Bay Cycling Classic series.

With the race shedding riders on each climb of the notorious Mt Buninyong, Dennis, Sheppard and Watson went clear at the start of the third last lap.

Watson was dropped on the penultimate climb, leaving Dennis and Sheppard who were both suffering the affects o cramping, to fight it out over the final twenty kilometres.

“I would say this win is right up there,” said Dennis who claimed second overall in the 2011 Tour de l’Avenir in France.

“I have never actually been on the podium at a national road race so it is a great feeling to have my first time on the podium in first place,” he added. “With about five laps to go I was feeling a little bit sore, but I started to feel a little better as our gap increased along the last couple of laps.

“Eric and myself were both cramping a little in the final stages, but I ended up pulling it off.

Dennis was also quick to praise the work of his teammates after the race.

“It was a beautiful team effort, especially Pat and Calvin, Pat probably did the most work out of anyone,” said Dennis. “We couldn’t have done it without him, he was on the front from the word go.

“When it got away with Calvin, he was working really well and with two laps to go, he did a lot on the hill, I definitely couldn’t have done it without him,” Dennis said.

Dennis now turns his focus to Tuesday’s 27.1km time trial around Learmonth before heading to South Australia for the Santos Tour Down Under where he will ride as part of the Uni SA-Australia outfit.

“Next week is Tour down Under and from then on, it is all track based leading into London,” explained Dennis. “It was one of my goals this year, to win this road race, but the track is the main goal for the rest of the year.

Victoria’s Eric Sheppard, who burst on to the international scene in 2011 when he won the Tour of Indonesia, was ecstatic with his silver medal performance.

“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.

Watson was also pleased with his and his team’s performance.

“I am over the moon, I didn’t really expect to be in this situation and being in the medals at all, it’s just amazing,” said Watson.

“We knew that we would have to assert ourselves in the race and that our strength in numbers would help us.

“We really took the race by the head but the team rode really strongly, particularly Pat Lane who was tremendous on the front for about seven laps” said Watson.

Rapha’s Ben Grendas was 5th in the championship.

1     Rohan Dennis (SA)     3:04:41
2     Eric Sheppard (Vic)     0:00:02
3     Calvin Watson (Vic)     0:01:03
4     Jay McCarthy (QLD)
5     Ben Grenda (Tas)     0:01:12
6     Blake Hose (Vic)
7     Stephen Hall (Wa)
8     Samuel Davis (Wa)
9     Luke Fetch (Vic)
10     Stuart Smith (Vic)
11     Mitchell Lovelock-Fay (ACT)
12     Matthew Clark (Vic)
13     Oliver Kent-Spark (Vic)
14     Lachlan Morton (NSW)
15     Michael Crosbie (Vic)
16     Alex Clements (Tas)     0:01:15
17     Thomas Palmer (ACT)     0:01:45
18     Phillip Mundy (SA)     0:02:25
19     Stuart Mulhern (QLD)
20     Campbell Flakemore (Tas)
21     Kevin Hawes (NSW)
22     Alex Wohler (QLD)     0:05:30
23     James Mowatt (Vic)     0:06:19
24     Sam McCallum (Vic)
25     Trenton Day (NSW)
26     Scott Mcphee (SA)     0:07:34
27     Trent Morey (Vic)
28     James Szollosi (QLD)
29     Timothy Cameron (ACT)
30     Jack Haig (Vic)
31     Nathan Elliott (Vic)
32     Damien Wright (QLD)
33     Robbie Hucker (Vic)     0:07:37
34     Craig Hutton (NSW)     0:10:09
35     Lachlan Doak (Vic)     0:10:44
36     Danny Pulbrook (Tas)
37     Nicholas Woods (NSW)
38     Luke Ockerby (Tas)     0:10:47
39     Justin Vanstone (QLD)
40     Brian Mcleod (QLD)
41     Jamie Lacey (QLD)     0:10:49
42     Jordan Davies (NSW)     0:14:49
43     Merlin Spranz (SA)     0:19:25
44     Aaron Eynaud (Vic)     0:20:28
45     Rhys Gillett (Vic)     0:20:31
46     Stephen Bomball (ACT)     0:22:54

Women’s Road RaceSpratt simply splendid
It was a simply splendid performance today by Amanda Spratt who launched an audacius solo attack to claim the elite women’s road race crown while Rohan Dennis delivered a knock out final effort to win the under 23 men’s title at the 2012 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Cycling Championships in Buninyong, near Ballarat.

Spratt, 24, crossed the line in 2:55:25 45 seconds ahead of her GreenEDGE-AIS teammate, South Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell who edged fellow South Australian Rachel Neylan in a sprint to the line. Defending champion and winner of Thursday’s criterium title, Alexis Rhodes (also with GreenEDGE-AIS) led home a chase group of ten riders to finish fourth.

“I can’t believe it still I have been working so hard for this,” said Spratt, the 2004 junior points race world champion on the track. “My mum was right on the side after the finish line and I was able to meet her and she was balling her eyes out, I was crying. I am so happy to have my family here to experience this with me.”

The under 23 crown went to Jayco-AIS rider Sinead Noonan who placed 12th in the combined event but was the first rider in her category across the line. She was in the group at 1.30 to the winner while silver medallist Rebecca Werner and third best under 23 Rebecca Henderson were five minutes further back.

Seventy-eight riders started the race which was 10 laps of the 10.2 kilometre circuit, with the peloton staying mostly together for the first five laps.

The pace intensified over the second half of the race as the GreenEDGE-AIS team featuring Rhodes, Shara Gillow and Melissa Hoskins were joined by 2009 champion Carla Ryan and Team Jayco-AIS rider Gracie Elvin on the front. The increased pace took its toll and riders dropped from the bunch until less than twenty riders were left in contention for the medals.

In the final thirty kilometres Spratt attacked at the top of the Mt Buninyong climb none of her rivals could match her burst of speed. She gained more thank a minute before Neylan, closely followed by Cromwell, launched a counter attack but Spratt by then had a sniff of victory and was not going to be caught.

“I knew I had good form coming in, but here you also need luck on your side in this race,” said Spratt who claimed her first UCI victory in 2011 winning the overall classification at the Gracia Olavia in the Czech Rebublic.

“When I went on the top of the climb, I got a gap straight away which kept growing, but I actually thought I was a little bit early, but I knew I had two strong team mates with me if it did come back together.

“I had the team car coming up and giving me the time gaps, but I didn’t let myself think it was going to happen until probably the last kilometre.

The win comes after a two year period durng which Spratt’s racing and training was hampered by knee and hip injuries that required surgery to reduce pressure from a sciatic nerve injury.

“I have had a couple of years out with a couple of niggles, but I am back in force and this is the biggest result I have had,” Spratt said.

“The last two years now I have been able to get consistent racing, consistent training and finally step up the level I want to be at.

“There is still a lot of hard work to do to keep moving forward, but it is all going well,” Spratt added.

Spratt was quick to praise her new team mates.

“I can’t thank my teammates enough, we had a great team out there, they were looking after me all day and one of us won,” said Spratt. “This is the great thing about this team, everyone backs each other up.”