William Hodges took an emphatic sprint victory from a reduced group at the NSW Elite Road Championships in Gunning on Sunday.
He started the day as the only rider in green, outnumbered with three riders from both Bridgelane and Nero Continental. But there was no denying the 23 year old who was taking part in his first Elite Championship of his career.
An early breakaway of Rylee Field (Bridgelane) and Jesse Coyle (Nero Continental) was then joined by Samuel Hill (Bridgelane), Chris Miller (Nero Continental) and Darcy Ellerm- Norton (Rapha CC) which looked to be the winning move. Sensing this, Hodges attacked across to the breakaway with Jay Vine (Nero Continental) and Benjamin Hill (Bridgelane) in tow to form an 8 man group at the front.
With 3 riders in the lead group and the peloton no threat of catching the leaders: The tactics of team Bridgelane in the closing stages was to attack. Attempting to reduce their number of rivals in the group. Hodges and Nero Continental controlling proceedings rode a steady pace to try and keep the group together. Riders continued to drop off as the 141km championship drew to a conclusion with a four up sprint with Hodges taking the win ahead of Vine, and Bridgelane siblings Samuel Hill & Benjamin Hill.
The win takes Hodges’ Gunning gold medal tally to two. Having won the Under 23 NSW Championship in 2019 in his last season in the younger category.
Under 23 Championship: Bolton Claims Silver
A reduced sprint from the day long breakaway saw Kurt Eather (Team Rauland) take the victory on the line ahead of the GREEN TEAM’s Thomas Bolton and Myles Stewart (Nero Continental).
The race began aggressively with a breakaway of 7 forming over the first climb including Bolton and Oliver’s teammate Campbell Jones.
Jones put in a strong ride to increase the breakaway’s advantage and keep Bolton fresh whilst behind their teammates Kai Chapman and Fintan Conway marked moves bunch and stayed safe for the possibility of a bunch sprint.
With two Oliver’s riders in the breakaway of 7: The last lap involved a lot of attacks which put pressure on Jones to counter, and would eventually force the 20 year old back to the pack. The pressure was on race favorite Bolton, who had previously won the last 4 bike races he contested, to keep at the front for a sprint finish. With the break down to five men for the finish, it came down to a drag race sprint between Bolton and Eather, with the latter holding on to claim the victory.
William Hodges: “I’m stoked to get the win after such a hard race against a field of that quality. I knew getting a result today would be tough but that’s what makes it so special!”