Sean Whitfield has won the NSW Elite Men’s Criterium Championship from a select group of three in a race of attrition in the Hunter Valley town of Broke. Whitfield denied defending champion Jack Bennett in a strong sprint finish despite numerous attacks from their third breakaway counterpart Sam Hill (Nero Continental)
It took 30 minutes of attacking and counter-attacking before the hour long race settled down to a leading group of 8 working smoothly together. Notably, last year’s under-23 champion and Whitfield’s only teammate Tom Bolton held himself back in the chase peloton, ensuring others did not join the leaders.
As expected from Hill: He began to launch attacks which thinned the breakaway eventually down to 3, but Hill was always marked and nullified by Bennett & Whitfield, the two fastest sprinters in the group.
On the final lap Hill went for a long-range sprint, launching first into the final corner and up the straight.
However, Whitfield played it coolly, slotting into Bennett’s wheel before stepping out with several powerful pedal strokes to drive his bike across the line first.
It was a successful weekend for Whitfield, having finished second the day before at the Orica Kermesse held in testing conditions in Kurri Kurri.
“When Sam Hill started sitting on, that’s when I started sitting on, because he’s going to launch all the attacks. I just followed him off the front into a three-man and I was happy to work with Jack Bennett and Sam. I’ve been working hard through COVID, did a lot of big training rides and kept going at the start of this year,” Whitfield said. “I knew I had good form – a different sort of form that I’ve ever had, which is to ride off the front more than ever. We saw that today, so I’m really happy to get a win and be back on the top step at this level.”
Full results here: