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Orica-GreenEDGE rider Cameron Meyer (WA) has completed a successful return from surgery, holding on throughout an exciting race to secure the Elite Men’s Road title at the Oceania Championships in Canberra.
Under blue skies at Tidbinbilla, Meyer led from almost the start alongside a breakaway that slowly saw its number diminish from 14 to two over the challenging 153-kilometre course.
Fellow South Australian Damien Howson was with Meyer from start to finish, and crossed the line second to secure the U23 crown. Jack Anderson (QLD) recovered after dropping from the front midway through the race to finish second in the Elite category, while Neil van der Ploeg (VIC) rounded out the podium
The riders were tested early with a trip along Paddys River Road heading towards Mount Stromlo, before circling back and entering the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to complete six laps of the loop section.
Reflecting on his return from surgery to remove a sadle sore, Meyer said he was pleased with the result.
“It’s been a long couple of months, it has been a long process. I think I’m finally over it and ready to return to racing and today was a good kick-start to get back into it. [It was a] great race, and a great tough little circuit to see what level I’m at, and I am happy with what I did today.”
Meyer had been in the lead group from the start, and had enough endurance in his first race back to hold on for the Championship.
“I reckon there was 2,500-3,000 metres of climbing, and it was on from the word go. Attacks everywhere and it was actually one of the first big moves that stayed away for the whole time. I was happy to step back on the bike with a number on and have a race.”
Run concurrently with the Elite Men’s Road Race, the U23 category saw Howson grab gold with a calm finish two seconds behind Meyer. The Western Australian pipped local boy Adam Phelan (ACT) and mountain biker Jack Haig (VIC) for the crown, after spending most of the race battling Phelan and Campbell Flakemore (TAS) in the main breakaway group.
“It was a very hard course, as expected. Lots of hills from the word go,” said Howson, explaining his race strategy. “I rode for SASI today and we went in with the plan at the start knowing that there was a good chance it would be similar to Nationals and last year’s Oceania Championships, with the breakaway that wins. I put myself in the move and it paid off today.”
Howson initiated the final breakaway and despite leading at one stage, wasn’t able to stop Meyer from clinching the win.
“I hit him with a kilometre to go and got a little bit of a gap but then obviously he had the legs for the sprint at the end. [I am] happy with second overall though and to take the U23 category!”
In the U19 age group, Ryan Cavanagh (QLD) seized a comfortable victory ahead of Jai Hindley (WA) and Robert Power (WA). In an exciting race, the Western Australian duo broke with several other riders around the 60-kilometre mark and led for most of the race.
Despite Hindley and Power putting 39 seconds on the chasers going into the last lap, Cavanagh displayed a sterling solo effort to overtake the pair, eventually crossing the finish line with a comfortable lead.
“I felt good going up over the loop. Then coming across the top on that last one I just gave it everything, the gap opened, I caught the two guys and went again.”