Alex Edmondson wins thrilling Australian road race title
07 January 2018 06:10
Alex Edmondson (Mitchelton-Scott) held off a charging chase group to claim the Australian national road race title in thrilling fashion. Edmondson and Chris Harper (Bennelong SwissWellness) had attacked with 30km to race and proved the strongest riders of the last break of the day. Holding a narrow lead over of a small and select bunch that contained the likes of Richie Porte (BMC), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) into the last kilometre, it was a nervous finale. With the finish line in sight, Edmondson opened up his sprint to gain a small gap over Harper as a slight hesitation in the chase played into his hands. Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) had the best sprint from the chase but the move was left too late as Edmondson has time to sit up and celebrate the biggest win of his road career by a meagre second. "Absolutely speechless. It has been an absolute dream of mine. I guess every cyclist growing up, you want to wear the green and gold. It was a magical day I am not going to forget for a hell of a time. I honestly I am not sure what else to say," said Edmondson. "I kept on looking over my shoulder with about 50 metres to go I knew this was the moment and I was pretty happy. I was about to fall of my bike because I was throwing my hands that hard. I don't get that many opportunities to do it." Once Edmondson launched his sprint, it was a fight for silver and while there was hesitation from the group, it was McCarthy who would finish amongst the medal. "It is still a nice result but I am still the first loser," McCarthy said. "Nathan [Haas] went like I did last year and jumped early and Caleb went to follow him and then there was a bit of hesitation and that was my mark to go as they slowed up I knew that if I had a good kick like I did I would be able to get through to the final." For Harper, the medal and performance should seal a place in the Tour Down Under team next week and caps off another successful championships for his Bennelong-SwissWellness team. "I had a crack a couple of times again but I just want strong enough to get rid of him. I don't have as much speed as something like Alex Edmondson," he said of his regular training partner. "It is a good result for me. We covered everything and we can be proud of how rode these national championships. "ADVERTISEMENT How it unfolded The early morning overcast conditions that welcomed the women's peloton cleared for the men's 12:15pm start time. As before the women’s race, a minute of silence was also observed in memory of Jason Lowndes. There was no ease in the first breakaway of the day forming with the peloton crossing over for two of the 16 laps before a group could take shape. On the fourth lap, Dylan Newbery (mobius BridgeLane), William Clarke (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale), Robert Power (Mitchelton-Scott), Troy Herfoss, and Sean Lake (Bennelong SwissWellness) were two and a half minutes to the good. Dangling behind was David Edwards (Brisbane Continental Cycling Team). Behind the leaders was a chase group pegged at one minute containing Thomas Kaesler (Drapac EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team), Allan Iacuone, Peter Milostic, Tristan Ward (Bennelong SwissWellness) and Ben Van Dam (Nero KOM Racing). The peloton controlled by Mitchelton-Scott. A reshuffle of the breakaway saw eight riders: Herfoss, Power, Ward, Kaesler, Clarke, Lake, Newbery, and 43-year-old Milostic form the leading group. A three-man group of Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal), Michael Freiberg (Bennelong SwissWellness) and Ollie Kent-Spark found themselves caught between the leaders and peloton. On the climb, Gerrans' relentless pace drew Hansen, Kent-Spark and Freiberg back into the bunch and cut the lead to the break. Giving Gerrans a breather was BMC teammate and defending champion Miles Scotson before the two-time champion again dished out the pain. With 50km to race, Herfoss, the 2016 Australian Superbike champion, jumped clear from the breakaway to take on the mantle as leader on the road by 55 seconds. Gerrans and Scotson from behind continued to cut the lead, down to three minutes, 44km from home. The dual efforts of BMC behind and Herfoss in front put the pressure on the breakaway, trimming its numbers by the start of the third lap. With 35km to go, Clarke and Power attacked from the reduced break, leaving Ward and Newbury to be swept up by the Gerrans lead bunch. On the climb, Gerrans and then Scotson did one final pull before calling it a day having reduced the gap to 1 minute 20. Clarke and Power were caught at 31km at the KOM as Harper stretched the reduced bunch out. Over the KOM, Clarke went again with Edmondson, and Harper jumping on his wheel in what would be the race-winning move. With Herfoss for company, the held a 1:20 minute lead over the peloton to start the second last lap. Up the highway to the climb, Edmondson and Harper rode away from Clarke and Herfoss. Despite Harper being the better climber on paper, Edmondson pushed the pace to go solo. Harper regrouped as the battle came alive in the bunch. With 14km to race, Simon Clarke attacked, bridging to teammate Will Clarke, and while covering the move, Durbridge lost his front wheel, crashing heavily and breaking his collarbone. On the bell lap, the duo held 33 seconds over the Clarke chase with the peloton at 1:07 minutes. Simon Clarke went alone at 10km before Porte put in the most significant of the moves to thin the bunch and ensure Clarke at the top of the climb. Edmondson and Harper though pressed on despite the action behind with Cam Meyer doing his upmost to ensure his teammate could stay away. Ben O'Connor and Nathan Earle were two riders to roll the dice on the straight road into the technical university section and once back out on to the open roads; it was Porte, then Simon Clarke attacking again. Initially looking back and looking to give Ewan his chance in the sprint as the chasers neared, Edmondson and Harper thought better of the move and held their 11-second lead. Meyer again shut down a number of moves but with 500 metres to race, nothing was certain. As Edmondson started his sprint, so did Haas but it was only a race for silver and bronze as McCarthy took the front position to steal in for silver as Harper narrowly held on for bronze.
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