In a race controlled by the Orica-GreenEDGE train, Caleb Ewan (NSW) has capped off the hard work of his teammates to win the 2016 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships criterium.
Ewan led home Brenton Jones (Vic) and 2012 criterium winner Anthony Giacoppo (WA) in front of a huge crowd in blustery conditions on Sturt Street in Ballarat.
The Avanti IsoWhey Sports Cycling Team and Drapac Professional Racing squads were determined not to let their World Tour rivals have it all their own way, launching multiple two-pronged attacks throughout the hour-long criterium in a bid to disrupt the GreenEDGE juggernaut.
Samuel Spokes (NSW) and Robbie Hucker (Vic) threatened to steal the show, launching a break that held the peloton at bay for a number of laps, and stretched to over 10 seconds at times.
Lead by veteran Luke Durbridge, the Orica-GreenEDGE team never panicked, and began to reel in the escapees as the laps remaining counted down.
In the final lap, Ewan was marshalled by his new teammate Alexander Edmondson (SA) who provided the perfect lead out for the pocket rocket to claim his maiden senior championship.
?It was actually a big relief. I came to this race really, really nervous and I knew I had some good wins already in the Bay Crits so I was clearly the favourite for today. Obviously there?s a fair bit of pressure going into the race as favourite.?
?I can?t fault the team at all, they rode perfectly and again they just gave me such an easy ride out there and that?s what makes the difference in the end.?
?It?s pretty nice to get the gold one finally, well not finally only after one season, but it feels really good and I?m an elite national champion and that?s something nice to have on your palmares. I?m still looking forward to the road race, that?s the big one that you really want to win so hopefully I go well there as well.?
As well as gold in tonight?s criterium, Ewan also won three stages on his way to claiming the yellow jersey at the 2016 Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, showing he is in fine form heading into the men?s road race on Super Sunday.
?Obviously I?d like to win (on Sunday) but we?ll see how the race plays out. It makes a massive difference I think with the wind as well, which way that blows, because if it?s a tailwind up the climb it?s probably going to be too hard for me so I?m hoping for a headwind,? concluded Ewan.
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Text via Cycling Australia Media Release