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The 2021 Federation University Road National Championships moved to Buninyong on Saturday with Australia’s para-cycling world champions, under 23, under 19, and cyclists in the intellectual impairment category, tackling the tough Mt Buninyong road course. 

UNDER 23 

A brilliant breakaway effort from Thomas Benton saw him win an emphatic gold and the InForm TMX Make team clean sweep the podium in the under 23 road race on Saturday afternoon at the 2021 Federation University Road National Championships.  

“Today is definitely my best result to date, that’s for sure,” said Benton. “I was just encouraged by the support of my team with everyone encouraging me to get across the line, I’m still amazed by what’s just happened. 

“Everyone believed in us, the whole team including those in the team car as well, they were getting around me. I couldn’t have done it today without those guys, so a massive thanks to them.” 

Benton was part of an early break of six riders which attacked inside the first few kilometres of the 139-kilometre race which took in 12 laps of the tough Mt Buninyong and Federation University road course.  

The group stayed together for nearly 100-kilometres, before shedding riders over the final few laps. Benton and Connor Sens were the last two standing as they entered the penultimate lap, which is where Benton made his decisive move, attacking on the climb. 

Benton soloed the final lap and a half to victory, with his teammates Rudy Porter and Carter Turnbull finishing 25 seconds behind, joining Benton in an all-in team celebration on the finish line.  

”I couldn't believe it, I had no idea they were behind me, so when I saw them come across the finish line afterwards, it was unreal. It’s been such a good day for us, phenomenal really,” said Benton.  

“Our initial plan was to get an early break because it suits me being on the pedals all day rather than sitting in the bunch and hitting in the last few laps. 

“I just saw the other guys were slightly weaker, particularly with the gaps as we were going up the climb. It wasn't a full gas attack, I was basically just testing them out, but the gap gradually grew bigger and I knew this was the time to go, so I just went solo with a lap and a half to go.” 

Benton revealed he came into the race with added motivation after missing the podium in the time trial.  

“I have been training pretty hard for this race, I came here with a disappointing time trial result coming in fifth, so I just took that emotion and used it to motivate me for today's race, I’m pretty stoked.”  

Benton praised his coach Nathan Elliot, a two-time winner of the prestigious Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic which Benton will contest next Saturday 13 February.  

“I would like to thank my coach Nathan, I couldn’t have done it without him. I also appreciate the support I get from the Inform team, everyone gets around and supports each other and without them, I don’t think I would have claimed this success today.”  

JUNIOR WOMEN’S  

Alyssa Polites (Sydney Uni Staminade) claimed gold in the junior women’s road race, storming to a solo victory by nearly three minutes. 

Polites made her decisive solo breakaway with two and a half kilometres to go in the 69.6-kilometre race which took in six laps of the Mt Buninyong course.  

“Last year I finished second here behind my teammate Hayley Fuller and I stuffed up the sprint, so I was really hungry for this one,” said the Carnegie Caulfield cyclist. 

“I didn’t intend to go with two and a half kilometres to go. I really wanted to go with two or one to go but I saw the opportunity and luckily enough I got away.” 

The win secured dual gold on the week for Polites after she won gold in the individual time trial on Wednesday.  

“My plan was to just get on the podium this year. It was my dream to get the double gold so I’m pretty satisfied.” 

JUNIOR MEN’S 

The junior men’s road race saw a mad dash to the finish with Dylan George (Manly Warringah CC) beating five competitors to the line in a sprint finish.  

After a near-miss in the time trial, George was overwhelmed after pulling on the green and gold jersey.  

“The emotions I’m feeling after the week I’ve had are pretty ecstatic to be honest. There was a bit of pressure in the time trial, and I was a bit of a marked man in the road race,” George said. “After missing out by a close margin in the time trial, I was neck and neck until I got a flat tyre. 

“So I’m really happy to at least get one green and gold jersey for the week.” 

Reflecting on the gruelling 104-kilometre race, which took in twelve laps of the Mt Buninyong course, George revealed the rush of the finish line took him to victory.  

“I was cramping a bit on the last lap, so I didn’t really want to sprint, but I knew I couldn’t go early with it,” said George. “When you’re going that hard at the end of a 100km race, the adrenaline rush is pretty hard, and you feel the pain, but you forget about it afterwards.” 

PARA & AWII 

The 2021 Federation University Road National Championships moved to Buninyong on Saturday with Australia’s para-cycling world champions, under 23, under 19, and cyclists in the intellectual impairment category, tackling the tough Mt Buninyong road course.  

Reigning world champion Carol Cooke celebrated an eleventh straight road crown in the T2 Tricycle classification, which came after an eleventh straight time trial title last Thursday.  

"It's just so awesome to have an event to go to, mentally I think we all needed it,” said Cooke after a successful week in her return to road racing. “You can race all you want virtually, but it's just not the same. I was racing virtually on Zwift against my competitors overseas. But I was getting up at like, 1am, to race them at 2am.  

“But to be able to come to an event, even though I did not have any competitors, but to be with the team to be with all the other para cyclists too, to see of us racing. It's just been awesome.”  

“The volunteers have been amazing. The staff around the event have been amazing. Even the people in Buninyong and Ballarat have been “Oh, it's so good to have everybody back.” 

Cooke is eyeing a third Paralympic Games selection for the Tokyo Games, and a third straight time trial gold. 

“I wish I had $1 for every time somebody said to me while I've been here, “Oh, do you think they'll go ahead?” And everybody is asking that, but as far as we are concerned, it is going ahead.  

“And it was 200 days yesterday, there are 200 days to the opening ceremony. So, you just think, Wow, 200 days, it is just going to fly by, you know.” 

Stuart Jones (Newcastle Cycling Club) took gold in the men’s T2 event.  

After missing last year’s road nationals following a crash in the lead into the Championships, Darren Hicks was happy to be back and on the top step of the podium.  

"It was really nice to come back and actually get back in the national champs as well, but just racing, in general, is just amazing,” said Hicks, who returned to racing at December’s Track Nationals following a long 2020 void of racing due to the COVID Pandemic.  

“It is a good feeling now, after so long without racing track nationals now road nationals, but I never stopped in my world. I wanted to really keep training all the way through and we can get in some racing here which is great.” 

Hicks, a 2019 world champion on both the road and track, is aiming for his maiden Paralympic Games selection in both disciplines.  

“I don't know how I would handle actually getting named in the team,” he said. “It's been four or five year's worth of training now that that's the only dream that sort of keeps me on training seven days a week, three or four months at a time, I guess is what we all want. I just hope the world sorts itself out and we get a chance to compete.” 

Fellow South Australian Paige Greco completed the double in the women’s C3 category.  

“I just tried to ride the race the best I could. It has been really good getting back into racing, around the team and athletes face to face as well. It has been really exciting.” 

Like Hicks, Greco is chasing her first Paralympic selection but has refused to let the postponement of the Games affect her preparation.  

“I just focus on all the little goals that I can again, just take it like, day by day, week by week, on each training session instead of the end goal, or whatever the media is saying.”  

David Nicholas (Mackay Cycling Club) secured the road race and time trial double, as did fiancé Emilie Miller (Bathurst CC) in the women’s H1 Handcycle category.  

Beau Vernon (Southern Masters Cycling Club), Lauren Parker (Hunter District Cycling Club), Alex Welsh (Leongatha Cycling Club), Grant Allen (Port Adelaide Cycling Club) and Stuart Tripp (Alpine Cycling Club) also celebrated their second gold of the Championships.  

In the women’s C4 event, Meg Lemon (Port Adelaide Cycling Club) took gold, while Bronwyn Dolman (Port Adelaide Cycling Club) won the C5 category.  

In the intellectual impairment road races, Nathan Glarvey (Balmoral Cycling Club) added road gold to this time trial with victory in the men’s event. Glarvey covered four laps of the 10-kilometre course in 1hour 18:13secs.  

Georgia Powning also claimed the double for the Championships in the women’s event. Powning, who claimed time trial gold on Wednesday, clocked 1hour 8mins across the three laps.  

GUIDE

More than 1400 cyclists from across Australia will descend on Ballarat this week for the AusCycling 2021 Federation University Road National Championships.  

The five days of action in Ballarat and Buninyong from February 3-7 will feature the time trial, criterium, road race, plus Gran Fondo events.  

In all, 151 AusCycling national champions will be crowned across the elite, under 23, under 19, para, deaf, club and intellectual impairment categories. 40 UCI gold medals awarded in the UCI Gran Fondo World Qualifier events in the road race and time trial.  

SCHEDULE 

The coveted green and gold national champion’s jerseys on offer in the criterium, road race and time trial, plus Gran Fondo, across five days of action.  >>> roadnationals.org.au/schedule  

Wed 3rd Feb - Time Trial - Federation University  

  • Gran Fondo   
  • U19 Men; U19 Women; U23 Men U23 & Elite Women; Elite Men 

Thur 4 Feb - Time Trial - Federation University  

  • Para  
  • Intellectually Impaired  
  • Club Team Time Trial (including Victorian Championships)  

Friday 5th Feb - Criterium - Ballarat Sturt Street   

  • Club Team Crit
  • Fixed Gear 
  • U19 Women; U19 Men; U23 Men; U23 & Elite Women; Elite Men  

Sat 6th Feb - Road Race - Buninyong  

  • Para-Cycling and Intellectually Impaired Road Nationals  
  • U19 Women; U19 Men; U23 Men  
  • Gran Fondo   

Sun 7th Feb - Road Race - Buninyong  

  • U23 & Elite Women  
  • Elite Men 
START LISTS & LIVE RESULTS 

Visit the website’s official live timing page to stay up–to–date with all the action live from the Championships. >>> roadnationals.org.au/startlist-results

BROADCAST/LIVE STREAM  

The AusCycling 2021 Federation University Road National Championships will feature domestic coverage on SBS and FoxSports Australia, and for the first time, international broadcast coverage through the Global Cycling Network. 

>>> roadnationals.org.au/tv-live-stream-guide  

SPECTATOR GUIDE 

To ensure everyone’s safety in attendance, we’ve taken steps to safeguard The Federation University Road National Championships is a COVID Safe event. >>> roadnationals.org.au/spectate/  

OFFICIAL PROGRAM 

Download the official program.  >>> roadnationals.org.au/Road-Nationals-Program (pdf)  

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