Bendigo’s Chris Hamilton (VIC) was crowned the 2016 under 23 national road champion in Buninyong today taking victory ahead of Lucas Hamilton (VIC) at the 2016 MARS Cycling Australia Road National Championships.
Chris, who claimed the 2015 under 23 national criterium title, showed his speed in the finishing straight to hold off Lucas and claim the highly sought after green and gold jersey.
The bronze medal went to defending champion Miles Scotson (SA), who won a five rider sprint ahead of Alistair Donohoe (VIC).
“Its pretty surreal I don’t think its sunk in yet,” Hamilton said. “I thought the criterium win was pretty cool last year, but to come out with another jersey, it is unbelievable.
“A lot of people who I look up to are amongst the winners of this event, I know that much,” added Hamilton, on what it means to add his name to the under 23 road race honour roll which has been won by the likes of Rohan Dennis, Simon Gerrans and Caleb Ewan.
The race got off to a relatively sedate pace with Rylee Field (NSW) and Jason Lea (VIC) forming a break on the opening lap. After initially gaining 45 seconds the gap fell to just over 20 early on the second lap. Field went on to claim the KOM and sprinter jersey.
Unhappy with the pace Chris Harper went on solo, quickly reducing the gap to a tiring Field to inside a minute, as the peloton again eased up. The reduction in pace set off a new series of attacks followed with former track world champion Alex Morgan (VIC) and Cyrus Monk (VIC) quickly making inroads.
Early on lap 10, all the chasers had been caught by a relaxed peloton as defending champion Miles Scotson took advantage of the slow pace to put in an attack reminiscent of his successful move in 2015. His move caused the first split of the day with 15 riders including defending champion Miles Scotson and bronze medallist Alistair Donohoe (VIC).
From then on only the strongest were able to survive with riders constantly dropping off and coming back with two laps remaining. While all the action was happening behind, Harper continued on strongly and with two laps remaining he had one and a half minutes on Michael Storer (WA), Callum Scotson (SA), Jai Hindley (WA), Ben O’Connor (WA), Chris Hamilton, Lucas Hamilton, Donohoe and, M Scotson.
Both Lucas and Chris Hamilton continued to show their strength on the climb as one after one the members of the break were distanced leaving the Hamilton’s to chase Harper who remaining over a minute up the road. A third group on the road of Storer, Hindley and Miles Scotson formed just behind.
“I was feeling pretty good. Obviously Lucas, Miles and Callum were some of the strong ones there. Everyone’s attacking each other, but I had a strong few boys backing me up and was able to save my legs a little bit and dug in on the climb, and managed to bring back the leaders and took it from there,” said Chris Hamilton.
“We’ve always known each other through cycling but we were never really that close. Both being from country Victoria so we do see each other every now and then.”
“Lucas came up to me with two laps to go and said do you want to give this a crack and do this climb together. Lucas is definitely the strongest climber. So I thought yep, lets do this.”
As Chris and Lucas Hamilton started the final five kilometres they had 30 seconds on their closest chase group of Harper, Storer, M Scotson, Donohoe and Hindley.
Coming in to the finish it was Lucas Hamilton was on the front but Chris Hamilton took over with 200m remaining and held on to the line. A frantic chase saw the five riders closing in on the duo in the finishing strait but were unable to close the gap.
Defending champion Miles Scotson narrowly edged Donohoe for the final spot on the podium.
Despite narrowly missing gold Lucas Hamilton was happy with his performance.
“It’s a bit bitter sweet. I’m really happy to pull off a podium, always happy with that but to come so close I knew I had to get rid of Chris on the climb as he was last year national crit champion.
“It’s a bit disappointing but also I am super happy to pull off the result.”
Article and image courtesy of Cycling Australia.