Jack Bobridge left everything out on the road today to capture the Australian National Road Race Championships. After nearly four and a half hours leading the race, he took a brilliant solo win to capture his second title.
Cameron Meyer (Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) finished in second, 2 minutes and 52 seconds behind after launching a chase that dented but couldn’t break the monster gap Bobridge had built. Patrick Lane rounded out the podium.
“I reckon I will sleep pretty well tonight,” said Bobridge. “To win a national title is fantastic, you can wear the Aussie stripes in Europe and show them off all year. This is a big win for me but also for my team Trek-Segafredo. They believed in me and gave me a second chance, and I cannot thank them enough.”
Bobridge’s incredible day off the front also had him geabbing the mountain and sprint points to win both competitions on top of the green and gold jersey. It was one of the most daring and gutsy rides ever seen at the Australian championships.
“The people in Ballarat were incredible, all around the course,” added Bobridge. “I guess the way I did it today got everyone pretty excited, being off the front all day and being aggressive. It was a hard way to win it, but I managed to pull it off.”
A 20-rider break that included Bobridge went clear the first time over the Mt Buninyong climb on the first of 18 laps of the 183.6-kilometer race. The gap grew fast as the big teams – BMC and Orica-GreenEdge – saw little threat in the large group.
Eventually, Bobridge got away with Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac) and the two worked well together until Sulzberger fell off the pace with nine laps remaining.
The gap to the Orica-GreenEdge and BMC led chasing group was over eight and a half minutes with five laps to go, and when the gap did not decrease over the next laps Meyer and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) decided to give chase. But it was too late.
Bobridge still had nearly seven minutes lead with three laps and slightly over 30 kilometres remaining. Behind everything had shattered. It was man against man and Bobridge wasn’t slowing down.
By the finish Bobridge’s gap was cut to under three minutes; he still had plenty of time to savour his incredible effort. Behind Meyer dropped Dennis to claim second, while Lane caught and also overtook Dennis for third.
Bobridge: “It’s always a hard course to judge your effort: 10kms with a nasty little climb every lap. The wind direction was different than other years; it was a tailwind up the climb which helped the breakaway riders.
In the first lap when a big group of 20 riders got away I managed to put myself in there, and then later slipped away with another guy who couldn’t quite go with it.
From that point on I had to give my all and move on; I had used too much energy to go back – I would have lost the race if I went back. I managed to hold it off. Yeah, it’s the second time in my career, and it’s a great feeling.”
Five years ago as a 21-year-old, Jack Bobridge won his first Australian title in similar fashion: he attacked from the breakaway and soloed the final 30 kilometres. Sometimes, history really does repeat itself.