Sometimes even the breakaways that don’t make it through to the end can achieve their goals and more. Sunday was one of those days at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race when two teammates from a Continental wildcard squad went on the charge for the largest part of the WorldTour race and swept up the King of the Mountains and Sprint jersey along the way.
Pretty much as soon as the 176.5km race began, three young riders from across the two Australian Continental teams who got wildcard entries into the race charged out of the peloton, Joshua Cranage, 18, and Dylan Proctor-Parker, 19, of ARA Skip Capital and Jackson Medway, 19, of Team BridgeLane. Then they also took the foot off the pedal a little to also let Zac Marriage, 20, make the junction.
The plan at the start of the day for the long-running Australian squad of Team BridgeLane was to get two riders up the road and try and claim at least one of the jerseys.
That was also the ARA Skip Capital plan, as Cranage leapt early, well before the first set of King of the Mountains points line but it was a move that backfired with Medway – the winner of the U23 Australian time trial title earlier in January – alert and ready to react.
“I just slung shot over that bloke and opened up a big enough gap and was just told, just ride it. That’s what I’d do in a TT so I thought I’ll just go,” said Medway, who claimed not only the first set of sprint points but kept rolling out the front alone till past the second set, just a little over 20km down the road. “I tried not to burn too many bikkies and it was easy, just sat up.”
One jersey now secured, with only one more intermediate sprint to score at, the relative newcomer to cycling with a triathlon background fell back in with the other escapees. They worked together to maintain a gap on the peloton of close to three minutes as they entered into the local loop with 66km to go.
Four rounds of that loop meant four climbs of Challambra, with KOM points for the first three and the BridgeLane duo ended up with a monopoly on these as well. They had dropped their break companions on the climb and now it was Marriage’s turn to claim his jersey.
Two laps down and it was secure, but Marriage and Medway kept forging on and even though the pace was heating up as the battle for the final victory began to bubble away behind, they held out for a third run up Challambra, sweeping up the third and final lot of points on offer with a grimace worthy of the jersey.
“It was a big day, pretty happy how it worked out,” Marriage told reporters after stepping up to the podium. “We kind of went in just hoping for at least one of the jerseys but we just tried to delay the catch for as long as possible so we could finish, but it was pretty unreal when we got to the third lap still, just charging on.”
Given the Australian teammates swept up every one of the sprint prizes, as well as the jerseys, the total prize packet the team will be sharing sits at an impressive €10,000 but there is one far bigger prize that all of them are chasing.
“It’s a WorldTour event – we don’t get to do them too often – everyone else in the pelo is where I want to be, where we all want to be,” said Marriage. “So I guess [the aim is] just get the name out there, get them talking. Hopefully, maybe it could lead to things – who knows, got to try.”