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Garmin-Sharp sprinter benefits from hard work from Drapac Professional Cycling and a late crash to take a convincing win ahead of Giacoppo and Jones at the Australian Criterium Championships

Photo: Sirotti

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STEELE VON HOFF

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09.01.2014 @ 16:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Steele Von Hoff gave Garmin-Sharp a perfect start to the year when the sprinter overcame the lack of team support to win the Australian Criterium Championships. Having stayed in the peloton for most of the day while Drapac Professional Cycling, he avoided a late crash before launching a fierce sprint to hold off Anthony Giacoppo and Brenton Jones in convincing fashion.

 

Yesterday Garmin-Sharp was left disappointed when Rohan Dennis missed a big opportunity to become Australian time trial champion due to bad crash that left him with a hematoma on his hip and a swollen ankle. Today the team's sprinter Steele Von Hoff made amends when he added the Australian criterium championships to his palmares.

 

With no teammates for support, Von Hoff found himself in a difficult tactical situation as he was up against the 9 riders from Drapac Professional Cycling and a big contingent from the Avanti team. However, he was lucky that both teams were intent to set it up for a sprint finish and so he could save himself for the final dash to the line.

 

Things kicked off with an attack from defending champion Cameron Meyer who was the only Orica-GreenEDGE rider to start the race but the move was quickly neutralized by the Drapac team. The newly promoted  pro-continental had skipped the recent Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic in favour of a training camp and had high ambitions for the race.

 

This showed in the early part of the race, with the team controlling the peloton strictly. Team sprinter Jonathan Cantwell was leading the troops, hoping to take his second win in the race.

 

The other big team, Avanti, sat back and allowed Drapac to do the work but when the red-clad team launched Adam Phelan into a five-rider move, the Avanti guys had to kick into action. Patrick Shaw was also part of the move and used his lengthy spell off the front to secure the sprints jersey in the race.

 

"My plan was to win the bike race. I am in the best form that I've had for years. I wanted to give myself a chance for a result tonight. Unfortunately a big crash at the end derailed me, otherwise I'd be guarantee a top five spot," he said. "I am very proud how of my guys raced tonight. They were really riding well. We don't have the respect this team yet, but we are gaining it very quickly."

 

When the group was caught, Meyer tried his hand for a second time but with no success. Chris Jory was the last rider to launch an attack but when Drapac brought him back, all was set for a big sprint finish.

 

Disaster struck for Drapac when a crash brought down Cantwell, Robbie Hucker and Phelan, holding up several riders who last all hopes of glory. Von Hoff was lucky to avoid the carnage and was one of the few who contested the sprint for the green and gold jersey.

 

Here the Garmin-Sharp rider was in a league of his own, convincingly beating Avant's Anthony Giacoppo into 2nd. Youngster Brenton Jones who had impressed the Australian cycling elite by winning the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, continued his good run of form by making it onto the final podium. Meyer proved that he can sprint surprisingly well by taking fourth.

 

The Australian championships ends this weekend when the U23 and women's road races take place on Saturday and the men's race being held on Sunday.

 

Result:

1. Steele Von Hoff 1.00.55

2. Anthony Giacoppo +0.02

3. Brenton Jones

4. Cameron Meyer +0.04

5. Michael Fitzgerald

6. Rico Rogers

7. Neil Van Der Ploeg

8. Allan Davis

9. Craig Hutton

10. Darren Lapthorne +0.08

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