Silver medal for Gerrans as Durbridge digs deep at Australian Championships

Sun 8 Jan 2017

Two-time national champion Simon Gerrans has fallen agonisingly short of a third title, claiming the silver medal at the Australian Championships in Buninyong today.

In a race that came down to the wire, it was an attack by Miles Scotson (BMC) with one kilometre to go that caught the splintered field by surprise to claim the coveted jersey.

Gerrans won the bunch sprint that crossed the finish line just a few metres short of Scotson. Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) rounded out the podium.

“It’s ever so disappointing when it’s so close,” Gerrans said. “But we had guys up the road all day long which was the plan. I wasn’t on the best day so I rode as conservatively as I could to stay in the race.”

“I was third wheel (when Scotson went). But Miles hit us with a bit of speed at the right moment and managed to get just enough gap. A bit of hesitation from behind and that’s all it took.”

In a race that had it all, former Australian time trial and road race champion Luke Durbridge was a stand out performer. The 25-year-old was in the first move of the day and continued to make all of the subsequent moves, of which there were countless, for the entire 183.6km race. 

“It was an exciting race and I guess I just saw the front end of it for most of the day,” Durbridge joked after the finish. “We knew this year would be tough with less numbers but we gave it a crack and did everything we could. Well done to Miles.”

“I’m really happy that I had a good ride but we are here to win. It would have been great for Gerro to win but I am happy with how I’m going at the moment.”

Like Gerrans and Durbridge, sport director Matt White was disappointed to fall short of the victory but praised the tactics and condition of the team. 

“With the roster we had, the boys played it really well,” White said. “Hats off to Miles Scotson, it’s obviously disappointing we can’t take the jersey to Europe but we did everything we could.”

“The form of some of the guys, particularly Durbridge and Gerrans, gives us confidence for the races ahead.”

How it happened:

As riders took off for a hot day in the saddle on the tough Buninyong circuit, it was Durbridge who was in all of the early moves for ORICA-SCOTT.

He was initially joined by Mitch Docker before a reshuffle at the front saw Caleb Ewan join Durbridge in a group of nine, which proved to be the major move of the day.

The breakaway extended to a maximum advantage of just over three minutes as Docker and Michael Hepburn maintained the tempo at the head of the peloton. 

The action in the break stayed steady until the final four laps, as they started to attack each other on the climb.

Despite the pressure, they remained together for another lap before eventually the elastic snapped after an attack from Cameron Meyer. Durbridge was able to react, Ewan was left behind, and a smaller group of five formed.

The action also began from behind as a chase group formed and closed in on the leaders.

A final lap full of attacks eventuated as the regrouping of the front two groups opened the race up to 17 riders.

But it was the launch by Scotson with one kilometre to go that caught them by surprise as they struggled to answer the attack.

We were kept in anticipation until the dying moments as the reduced bunch kick fell just a couple of metres short of Scotson across the line.