Monday, January 11, 2016

Antipodean Nationals

While it was reaching near single digit Farenheit temperatures at Espoirs Central HQ, it was nearly the opposite in the Antipodes with Australia & New Zealand both in the height of summer racing and their respective National Championships. While most readers probably saw the results by now, let's give a quick update.

Australian U23 TT

It was a domination by the brothers Scotson as it was the younger Callum that usurped his brother Miles, the defending champion, in the U23 time trial. These two riders were really head and shoulders above the rest of the field as Callum beat Miles by just 12 seconds but it was another minute back to 3rd place Ben O'Connor (Avanti IsoWhey). That isn't meant as a slam to O'Connor as it was a great ride that averaged over 45 km/h but the Scotsons were on another level
It was soon learned from the Scotson's coach Tim Decker that Callum produced an astonishing 405 watt average on his national title winning ride.
Australian U23 RR

While he eventually finished 52nd in the race, Rylee Field (GPM Stulz) got away after just one lap with Jason Lea and soon after, Field was on his own for what would be nearly 80 kilometers of solo riding. Field held on brilliantly to scoop up the KOM and Sprint crowns before being usurped by Chris Harper (State of Matter MAAP), who would define the finale of the race.

Harper, who had gone on a solo mission to bring back Field, was riding like a bat out of hell with some big names behind him. Harper's effort brought a counter attack from Miles Scotson, who would cause a reaction in the peloton that would eventually split it from 60 riders to a mere 14. That group was further reduced to just 6 chasers that included M. Scotson, Alistair Donohoe and a brilliant Michael Storer in his first U23 championships.

It wasn't any of these riders that would make the difference. A pair of Hamiltons attacked just before the end of the penultimate lap and made contact with Harper on the circuit's climb on the final lap of the race. Chris Hamilton (Avanti IsoWhey) was the U23 Criterium champion last year but also rides a fair bit of MTB races as was 2nd in the Australian U23 XC Championship last year as well. Lucas Hamilton (Victoria Institute of Sport) was the Australian Junior RR champion in 2014 and rode on the Australian NRS last year.

On the climb, Harper was dropped while the lawfirm of Hamilton & Hamilton accelerated. While some counter attacked occurred, they were not nearly enough to unseat the leaders. It came down to a sprint between the two and it was Chris who out-sprinted Lucas for the win.

 From the group of 5 chasers, it was Miles Scotson who out-sprinted Donohoe and Storer for the bronze medal while Harper managed to hang on for 6th.

For their efforts, Hamilton & Hamilton got spots on the Uni-SA team for the Tour Down Under coming up in a week. Scotson proved his class in spades as he was a marked man coming into the race but came away with a medal. And as said previously, Storer was great in his first U23 championship with a 6th in the TT and 5th in the RR.

New Zealand U23 TT

While Australia was the media darling, New Zealand's Nationals were a smaller affair that offered some tighter battles. In the U23 TT, new ONE Pro Cycling signing Hayden McCormick improved on his last year's 6th place by taking the title by just 9 seconds on Liam Aitcheson and 14 seconds on Klein Constantia rider Hamish Schreurs.

New Zealand U23 RR
Due to the low field size, the U23 and Elite men ran their race together. The race had an early attack that put many of the big WT names on the back foot. A group of 5 got away that included Jason Christie (Kenyan Riders Down Under), Robin Reid, ONE Pro Cycling teammates James Oram and Dion Smith along with Schreurs. By virtue of making the breakaway, Schreurs was able to secure the U23 jersey while finishing 3rd in the Elite RR behind winner Christie. McCormick came in with World Tour rider Paddy Bevin to finish 2nd while Aitcheson finished over 12 minutes down for 3rd in the U23 race. Out of 75 starters in the combined field, there were just 16 finishers.

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