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Multiple track world champion claws back an astonishing 42 seconds on defending champion Durbridge to take his first national time trial title in an Orica-GreenEDGE clean-sweep of the podium

Photo: Sirotti

DAMIEN HOWSON

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LUKE DURBRIDGE

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MICHAEL HEPBURN

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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NATIONAL CHAMPIONSSHIPS

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08.01.2014 @ 10:01 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Michael Hepburn produced a superb ride in the second half of the 45km course around Burrumbeet to claw back an astonishing 42 seconds over defending Luke Durbridge in the Australian Time Trial Championships. Having been 30 seconds down at the halfway mark, the multiple track world champion became a surprise winner of the event, with U23 world champion Damian Howson completing the podium in an Orica-GreenEDGE clean-sweep of the top 3.

 

All eyes were on Luke Durbridge to take his third consecutive time trial at the Australian Time Trial championships, with the defending champion being a overwhelming favourite after showing splendid condition in the recent Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. However, it wasn't to be for the 22-year-old Orica-GreenEDGE rider as he was beaten into second by teammate and close friend Michael Hepburn.

 

The new champion produced an astonishing ride in the second half of the course when he clawed back a massive 42 seconds on Durbridge in the final 22km. At the midpoint time check, all was set for another Durbridge win when the defending champion clocked a time that was 30 seconds faster than Hepburn's but the latter turned things around in the second part of the windy course.

 

The first rider down the ramp was Brett Cottee but the first rider to cross the line was Nicholas Wood who had passed two riders to set the early fastest time. He got the chance to sit in the hot seat for a few minutes before being dethroned by Jayden Copp who had been 1.52 quicker on the 45km course.

 

Aaron Donnelly lowered the mark a bit further when he went 31 seconds faster than Copp and held off the challenge from a fast Rhys Gillett to stay in the hot seat for a little longer. However, Matthew Clark put in  convincing ride to lower the mark by another 43 seconds to become the new leader of the race.

 

The professionals were still to come but before they rolled down the ramp, it was an ex-professional, former BMC rider Timothy Roe, who did his best to convince the ProTeams that he deserves a second chance. Becoming the first rider to go under the one-hour mark, he beat Clark by 1.06 to take over the hot seat.

 

Roe withstood the challenges from Nicholas Squillari and Michael Gallagher who were both producing good rides. However, he was relegated into 2nd when former U23 Australian Road Race champion Ben Dyball produced a surprisingly fast ride to go 36 seconds faster than Roe.

 

At that time, the first drama in the race took place when one of the pre-race favourites Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) came down. Strong winds blew the talented Australian off the road and he had to abandon the race immediately.

 

Dyball didn't get long time to enjoy his lead. Actually, there had been four riders in between him and Hepburn on the starting ramp but the Orica-GreenEDGE rider has passed them all to be the next rider to cross the line, lowering the mark by 2.53. Marc Williams, Jack Anderson, Michael Cupitt and William Clarke all had good rides to finish in or near the top 10 but had been unable to keep Hepburn behind them.

 

With Dennis out of the race and Jacob Kauffman being far behind at the intermediate checks, all eyes were now on Durbridge and Howson. The defending champion had been ahead of Hepburn at the intermediate check at the halfway point but when he past the check 2km from the finish, he had lost his advantage.

 

Durbridge passed Howson but his pace was not fast enough to take back the time he had lost. He crossed the line with a 11-second deficit to Hepburn, thus relinquishing his grip on the green and gold jersey.

 

Howson managed to keep up with Durbridge and even passed him near the finish to take 3rd, thus relegating Dyball into the disappointing 4th place. William Clarke completed the top 5.

 

The best Australian riders will be back in action tomorrow when the national criterium championships take place.

 

Result:

1. Michael Hepburn 56.25

2. Luke Durbridge +0.11

3. Damien Howson +2.06

4. Ben Dyball +2.35

5. William Clarke +2.51

6. Timothy Roe +3.11

7. Marc Williams +4.01

8. Matthew Clark +4.17

9. Jack Anderson +4.28

10. Jacob Kauffmann +4.40

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