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“I didn’t have the year that I wanted last year so hopefully this will start the ball rolling for this year. I am a confidence rider and when I get a few bad results I start to beat down on myself, but then to get a win it just...

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STEELE VON HOFF

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09.01.2014 @ 17:05 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Steele Von Hoff kicked his season off in the best possible way by winning today's Australian Criterium Championships. After having had less success than hoped for in 2013, the Garmin-Sharp rider is hopeful that today's win is a sign of things to come.

 

Having been one of the strongest domestic sprinters, Steele Von Hoff got the chance to join the WorldTour in 2013 when he signed a contract with Garmin-Sharp after spending a year on their development team and riding as a stagiaire in the autumn. However, the fast finisher didn't have the kind of success he had hoped for in his first year at the highest level and ended the season with a feeling of disappointment.

 

Von Hoff is intent on making 2014 much better and he couldn't have got his season off to a better start than he did today. Despite being without teammates in a race that was dominated by the mighty Drapac Professional Cycling team, Von Hoff beat all his rivals in the final sprint to claim the Australian Criterium Championships.

 

Many had seen the win coming as Von Hoff has long been one of Australia's best sprinter. However, the win at the championships had to far eluded him.

 

“To finally win the national champs on home soil is a really good omen for the rest of the year for me,” he said. “I’ve done well in the criteriums in Australia but I’ve never got the breakthrough win until now.”

 

"I’ve been on the podium, bronze, silver, gold. I can’t be happier than this."

 

The sprint was heavily impacted by a crash that brought down the Drapac lead-out train just when the team had started to string things out. Sprinter Jonathan Cantwell hit the deck, as did his teammates Adam Phelan and Robbie Hucker, leaving just a select few to contest the sprint.

 

Luckily for Von Hoff, he had chosen to stay on the wheels of his former Avanti teammates and so avoided the carnage.

 

“Up the back straight they went for it and Drapac had a mishap up the top corner and a few of them came down,” he explained. “I used to be on the Avanti cycling team so I know how strong they are so I just had to pick that train. You’ve just got to take advantage of that stuff.

 

“I got the wheel of Brenton Jones and then AJ [Anthony Giacoppo] in the finish," he added. "I just kicked off him and he [former teammate Giacoppo] still ran second so it was fantastic.”

 

Von Hoff is hopeful that the win signals a chance of fortunes.

 

“I didn’t have the year that I wanted last year so hopefully this will start the ball rolling for this year," he said. "I am a confidence rider and when I get a few bad results I start to beat down on myself, but then to get a win it just boosts everything."

 

Von Hoff will get his first chance to prove that today's win was no one-hit wonder when he lines up in Sunday's road race. He will have the support of teammates Nathan Haas, Rohan Dennis - provided that he starts after crashing hard in yesterday's time trial - and Lachlan Morton and with 3rd and 6th place finishes in the two previous editions of the race, he is hopeful that he can go up against the many riders from Orica-GreenEDGE and Drapac.

 

"I’d love to challenge for that jersey but with all the Drapac and Orica-GreenEdge boys going it's going to be very difficult," he said.

 

The road race takes place on Sunday on the hilly circuit in Buninyoung.

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