Road Nationals – Seventh Heaven; Mullens breaks through for career crown
It was seventh heaven for Gippsland's Peta Mullens as she clinched an incredible seventh national crown - winning the elite women’s road race at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Buninyong on Saturday.
In the under 23 men's road race, time trial national champion Miles Scotson added his name to an exclusive honour roll of cyclists to win both the under 23 time trial and road race.
Victoria’s Peta Mullens (VIC) sensationally claimed victory in the elite women’s road race at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Buninyong on Saturday.
Incredibly the crown was Mullens' seventh career national title, with the 26-year-old's resume already boasting six national titles across road and track cycling, mountain biking and mountain running.
“Of all the national titles [I’ve won], I’m a Mountain Biker, I would still prefer to win this,” said an elated Mullens. “It is by far the most prestigious and hardest to win and especially with the depth that we have in women cycling.
“It’s a bit ironic because it is supposed to be my only road race for the year and now that I have won the stripes, I might have to change my plans,” said Mullens who entered the race as an individual after choosing to focus on the dirt for 2015.
Mullens, who hails from Gippsland, bridged across to a solo Rachel Neylan (NSWIS) over the top of the penultimate climb to Mt Buninyong, descending into the township with a 40 second advantage.
Disharmony from the chasing bunch saw the duo race away for the win with Mullens’ sprint too powerful for Neylan.
“The winning move was pretty much with a lap and a half to go. Rach kicked off the bunch and no one was really doing all that much and I just thought, now’s the time if I can bridge across to her. I knew we would be a really strong duo and I thought ‘this is it’,” said Mullens who was crowned the under 23 national champion on this day in 2009.
An emotional Neylan was overwhelmed by the result.
“I really backed myself,” said Neylan. “I knew I had good legs and I knew also that the field was really strong. I think in those situations it’s about backing yourself and taking a chance,” said Neylan who clinched silver in the 2012 UCI Road World Championships.
“I did a fair bit of work up the climb and I think I probably paid for that in the sprint in the final. I’m really, really happy with my silver medal,” she said.
Time trial champion Shara Gillow (Rabo Liv) managed to shake her chasing companions for a solo third place.
“I did try to go for it a few times but burnt up a little bit of energy. But I’m happy that I tried, so to get the bronze medal is great,” said Shara.
“To bring two medals back [to Europe] is really good. I’m really excited, especially to get the national champs TT jersey for my new team, that’s pretty cool.”
The heavens smiled upon Buninyong for the elite women’s road race, with the forecasted rain holding off, allowing the women to tackle the 10 lap, 102 kilometre race without hindrance.
2012 champion Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS), who animated the early stages of the race by riding off the front of the peloton, was caught with 35 kilometres remaining. Spratt then immediately launched a counter attack and was joined by time trial silver medallist Bridie O’Donnell (Total Rush Hyster).
However the attack didn’t last long before the peloton began to disintegrate, giving way to the final attack by Neylan.
The race for under 23 road race honours went to Shannon Malseed (VIC/Holden Women’s Cycling) who adds to her criterium gold won on Wednesday night.
Malseed made the final selection and finished in the bunch, over a minute down on Mullens, with Alexandria Nicholls (ACT) taking silver and Ellen Skerritt (QLD) winning bronze.
“It’s definitely a good start to a season winning the under 23 title for the criterium and now the road race. I didn’t expect it, it’s still sinking in,” said Malseed.
“In the last kilometre I just attacked from a group that was just a little bit back from the front bunch. I saw the front group up the road and thought, ‘if I don’t go now, I’m not going to get there.’
“It was the best feeling ever. I don’t know what I came overall, but right now I’m all smiles,” said Malseed who finished in 11th place.
UNDER 19 MEN'S WRAP
20-year-old Miles Scotson (SASI) added his name to an exclusive honour roll of cyclists to win both the under 23 time trial and road race on Saturday, claiming an emphatic solo victory in Buninyong at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships.
Scotson joins the ranks of Jonathan Davis (2003), Jack Bobridge (2009) and Rohan Dennis (2012) to win both national titles in the same year.
“Coming into the Road National Championships I really wanted to win the time trial, which was a great feeling. That night I sent Jack Bobridge a message congratulating him and he said, ‘Rest up mate, only good guys do the double,’” said an elated Scotson.
“That got me thinking - I’d worked pretty hard coming in and I thought I was going to give it a good crack today.”
Having earned gold in the race against the clock on Thursday, Scotson’s time trial ability came to the fore again on Saturday when he attacked a depleted breakaway inside the final 20 kilometres.
Scotson dug deep for 17 kilometres, eventually crossing the line 36 seconds ahead of the sprint for the minor placings.
“I had one thing on my mind and that was to win the race so it was just all out with two to go,” said Scotson. “I went 100 per cent up the climb and I have to admit, the atmosphere at the top of the climb for an under 23 race was pretty good, it was pretty loud and that really spurred me on."
Queensland’s Fitter (CharterMason) tried to follow Scotson’s move and was solo for almost 10 kilometres before a determined chase group caught him on the final climb.
“I went really hard and got a good gap over Daniel Fitter, I went then because I know Daniel Fitter is a track rider and when he sees a finish line he’s a real racer and he’s quick.”
Scotson’s teammate and fellow track world champion, Alexander Edmondson, (SA) won the reduced bunch sprint for silver while Para-cycling road world champion Alistair Donohoe (Health.com.au/search2retain) claimed bronze.
“To come out here and get second is really great, I’m very happy to do it,” said reigning dual world champion Edmondson. “At about two and a half laps to go, I realised I wasn’t racing for first anymore but to go one-two is awesome.
“I’ve grown up with Miles probably from the under 15 ranks, so I’ve known him for a long time. Of course you always want to win, but to be beaten by Miles almost feels like I’ve won myself,” he said.
Earlier in the race, an eight rider breakaway formed and quickly gained a two minute advantage including Jason Lea (VIC), Callum Scotson (SA), Sam Hill (ACT), Fitter (QLD), Alex Porter (SA), Jason Lowndes (VIC), Aidan Bowe (VIC) and George Tansley (SA).
Scotson (SA), criterium silver medallist David Edwards (QLD) and Ben O’Connor (WA) worked together to bridge to the leaders soon after, with the extra numbers blowing the gap out to almost four minutes.
Disaster struck for Lea and Bowe, clipping wheels in the feed zone while soon after, the younger Scotson brother, Callum, suffered a puncture and also dropped from the break.
With 20 kilometres left to race, only Tansley, Edwards, Fitter and Scotson remained out in front, with the peloton – which included Jack Haig (VIC) and Robert Power (WA) - catching all but Scotson.