10 January 2014

First 2014 Cycling national champions

The traditional first national jerseys to be decided are in the Green and Gold of Australia. First up on Wednesday were the Time Trials.

Orica-GreenEDGE and Orica-AIS riders were defending both the men's and women's jerseys. For the women Shara Gillow was looking for her fourth title on the run and for the men Luke Durbridge was looking to become only the second Aussie to win more than twice with his third win in a row.

Wardlaw in action on Wednesday
In the women's race Gillow was coming back from illness and hadn't been on a bike for two weeks in the build up to the event. She still managed to see off almost every female cyclist in the field, the one exception being a 36-year-old Victorian who is only in her second full time season on the roads. Felicity Wardlaw had come third last year clocked 38:46.64 for the 28km course at Burrumbeet, near Ballarat in her home state.

Gillow who had come 13th in the Time Trial at Hampton Court during the London Olympics came in 32.2 seconds down, while 2008 champion returned to the podium a further 37.1 seconds slower.

In the men's race Orica-GreenEDGE had reigning World Team and Individual Pursuit champion on the track, Michael Hepburn, along with world U-23 World Time Trial Champion Damien Howson competing against their champion Durbridge. There was also Garmin-Sharp rider Rohan Dennis to contend with, however a puncture followed later by a fall caused by a gust of wind meant that Dennis did not complete the course.

l to r: Durbridge, Hepburn, Howson
Hepburn the 22-year-old World pursuit champion "captured" nine other riders, but unlike on the track he had to keep pedaling which he did posting a time of 56:25.90 on the 45km course. He was 2 minutes 6.3 seconds faster than Howson and with Dennis having a day to forget there was only his team mate wearing the number 1 as defending champion who could unseat him. But Durbridge lost out to the man who is only 130 days older than Hepburn missed out by 11.6 seconds. But Orica-GreenEDGE filled the podium.

The Road Race champions will be decided at the weekend.

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