Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships 2015

By: Zeb Woodpower

Haussler out kicks Ewan for Australian national title

Neil Van Der Ploeg claims bronze

Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) won a thrilling Australian national road championships as he out sprinted Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) to claim victory after 183km of racing around Bunninyong in a time of 4:47:24. Haussler lost contact on the final climb up Mt Buninyong with the seven-man break that had formed on lap four of 18, and had been whittled down as the pace lifted in the second half of the race, but regained contact in the final kilometres of the race and despite having "lactic acid coming out of his ears" held off Ewan for his first national title.

Neil van der Ploeg (Avanti) won the sprint for third place with neo-pro Campbell Flakemore (BMC), Sam Spokes (Drapac), Jack Bobridge (BudgetForklifts) and Angus Morton (Jelly Belly) following him home.

"It's definitely up there with the [Tour de France] stage win to Colmar, everything was in slow motion," Haussler said.

The IAM Cycling rider raced under a German licence until 2010, told reporters after the win. "In the last 100 meters I was sprinting and looking down and across to Caleb and just getting everything out of me to get across the line in first. When I got there I had to scream. There was just so much in me that I had to get out."

"I came here with good form and obviously it's very hard with just me and Dave [Tanner] in the race. It's a bit of poker but everything worked out perfectly. Like I said before, it's probably the best day of my life."

The anticipated tete-a-tete between Cadel Evans and Richie Porte came too late in the day with both heavily marked by the peloton as the seven-man breakaway started the final lap with a lead of a minute-and-a- half. While the fireworks starting going  in the peloton up the climb, Haussler and the break were riding away to victory and it would be sweet redemption after years of hard luck and injury.

"Once you've had the taste of winning in you, that sensation of emotion, that’s what it's all worth it for," Haussler said of what keeps him racing. "The hard work of going out on the bike every day and sacrificing everything basically, your relationship, relationships with friends, your whole lifestyle ...  but it is worth it. I'd do it all over and over again. That's the way cycling is, you have injuries you crash but you come back and that’s what makes you a rider. You fall down but you have to come back up and you come back even stronger."

"It means everything to me," Haussler added. "Even when they were playing the national anthem I had to hold back otherwise the tears were coming to come down, there have been a lot of bad years where you go to races and get dropped and guys go up the road and attack and in the sprint you just can’t follow and you think ‘what’s the matter?’ I knew it would come back eventually but you have to put in the hard work."

An attack by Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) on the back-half of the course came too late to bridge across the break with eighth place, 48 seconds later, placing him as the best of the chasers. Steele von Hoff won the bunch sprint for ninth place at 52 seconds in a group that contained Evans (11th), Porte (22nd) and Simon Clarke (10th).

How it unfolded

The men's road race started under overcast skies but there was no sign of the predicted inclement weather at the 10:50am roll out. Once the gun the fired, the peloton turned the pedals over to start the first of 18 laps and headed up the hill to Mt Buninyong. Sam Spokes (Drapac) and Rhys Gillett (Pro Team Down Under) where the first riders to get away and held a ten second advantage over the peloton when it crossed the line to start lap two.

With the duo reeled in on the lower slopes of the midland highway climb, local lad Pat Shaw (Avanti) attacked off the front and was joined by Cam Peterson (Drapac). The duo built a small advantage over the chasers to hold a 30 second advantage at the start of lap three.

A large group of 15 riders formed on the fourth lap as it caught and subsumed the breakaway. BudgetForklifts were one of three teams with multiple representations with Josh Berry, Brendan Canty and Jack Bobridge, while Orica-GreenEdge had Damien Howson and Luke Durbridge, Drapac had the quartet of Bernie Sulzberger, Will Clarke, Lachie Norris and Cam Peterson. The solo riders were Nathan Earle (Team Sky), Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling), Campbell Flakemore (BMC), Paul van der Ploeg (CharterMason Giant), along with Gillett and Shaw.

The leaders built an advantage of 53 seconds on the start of lap six and with Porte and Evans having teammates in the break, were happy to leave the pace setting to the likes of Orica-GreenEdge and BudgetForklifts who had amassed at the front of the bunch.

After seven laps and 70km of racing, the breaks advantage broke the minute barrier as Durbridge put in an effort to force a gap. More attacks saw riders drop off from the break, which reached a maximum advantage of two minutes, with Clarke the sole survivor by lap 14. The breakaway specialist would be joined by Pat Lane (African Wildlife Safaris) on the next lap who then motored on to be the leader on the road.

With 29km to go, Lane was caught close to the feed zone on the midland highway climb, by a 17 rider group that had managed to go off the front of the peloton. In that group was Robbie Hucker, Sam Spokes, Darren Lapthorne, (Drapac) Cameron Wurf, Ewan, Haussler, Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge), Angus Morton, Peter Milostic, Flakemore, Ollie Kent-Spark (search2retain /health.com), Mitch Docker, Bobridge, Neil van der Ploeg and Jack Anderson (BudgetForklifts).

With two laps to go, the break held a 1:24 minute advantage through the finish line and as they turned onto the climb for the penultimate time, Hepburn put in an attack to go solo and was joined by Spokes and Ewan and discarded the passengers.

Earle was riding on the front of the bunch which showed no desperation to bring back the break which had become nine riders by the time they came round for the bell lap with Hepburn and Flakemore leading.

A 1:30 minute deficient to the reduced peloton meant the likes of Evans and Porte would have to drop the hammer on the final climb if they wanted the gold medal.

Lapthorne was the first rider to attack from the breakaway and did so at the almost exact some spot as his did in 2007 when he won the title. Hepburn jumped on his wheel to close it down when Lapthorne tried again, it was Hepburn and Ewan going after him. Van der Ploeg was next to latch on just before Lapthorne gave it one last dig but it was Ewan who crested the KOM solo.

With the final seven kilometres a fast descent, Ewan was caught by Bobridge with four chasers behind them. By the time they reached Fisken Rd, it was all back together again while the peloton's chances of victor were relying on the break playing cat and mouse as the race winning attacks never eventuated from Evans or Porte.

Spokes attacked just as the six-rider group of Hepburn, van der Ploeg, Haussler, Ewan, Flakemore and Morton came back together in the final 3km.

From that point a sprint finish was inevitable and it was Haussler's timing of his sprint that got him over the line in first place just as he chain was falling off.

Article Source: Cycling News 

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