National Road Championships: Sam Jenner claims maiden victory in Under 23s

Victory: Armidale's Sam Jenner celebrates as he crosses the finishing line and claims the U23 Men's Road Race national title. Photo: John Veage

Victory: Armidale's Sam Jenner celebrates as he crosses the finishing line and claims the U23 Men's Road Race national title. Photo: John Veage

Armidale's Sam Jenner broke through for the biggest win of his career on Saturday with a stellar solo victory in the Under 23 Men's Road Race at the 2017 MARS Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Buninyong.

The 19-year-old Subaru-NSWIS cyclist, who spent the 2016 season in Europe with the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy, timed his attack to perfection inside the final few laps and soloed the final three laps of the 10.2-kilometre course to victory.

"I made the move about just before three laps to go, it wasn't really the plan but it was a bit of a lull in the bunch and I thought it was time to go," said Jenner, who in temperatures above 30 degrees, rode the final three of 13 laps of the course as fast as the peloton raced through the opening three.

The opening three laps contained a flurry of attacks with the first three groups on the road creating a 21-rider break after four laps. 

As the laps counted down, the size of the peloton whittled to less than 20 riders at the half-way point, giving the break confidence they could stay away and contest the stage.

With the sun glaring down on the riders and the gap falling, 2014 junior track world champion Daniel Fitter was the first to attack, putting his pursuiting pedigree into action and quickly established a one-minute lead on the field.

However, with the tough Mount Buninyong circuit taking it toll on the entire field, Fitter was absorbed by a group of seven, including Jenner, and Wednesday's criterium champion, Alex Porter. 

Sam celebrates.

Sam celebrates.

A lull in the pace meant the remaining peloton was making inroads in to their lead and Jenner put his experience racing in Europe into action with a blistering acceleration leaving him alone at the head of the race by 23 seconds with three laps to go.

On the penultimate lap, he extended his advantage to one minute on the chasers and further 30 seconds on the peloton.

"I thought I'd just back myself and that’s all I could do really, but it was a bit touch and go there," Jenner said.

"The whole last lap I was cramping up. I had to sort of stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, all the way up the climb and then as soon as I finished the line I couldn't stand. Like every time I went to get up, I cramped and fall back down.

"It's weird. You can sort of feel it but when you know there is a gold medal on the line you just push yourself and it just seems all the pain goes away."

Armidale Cycling Club president Mark Bullen was “over the moon” for Jenner.

“It hasn’t been a totally easy road for him,” he said. “It’s very well deserved. He’s worked very hard for it.”

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