Miles Scotson has started his senior professional cycling career by winning one of the greatest races in Australian road championships history.
The 22-year-old launched an audacious solo attack inside the last 2km of an epic men’s elite road race that caught the other 13 riders in the select lead pack at the perfect moment.
He soloed to the Buninyong finish, with race favourite Simon Gerrans finishing second and Nathan Haas taking third.
There is speculation the nationals could move from Buninyong and Ballarat after 11 years and if so, this was a fitting finale.
The enormity of what he had done soon started to sink in for Scotson.
“It’s really weird – I’m going to be racing in the national champion’s jersey in Europe this year,” he said
“It’s going to be a big jump … it’s time to lift my game.”
The BMC team of Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis has signed Scotson and he will make his WorldTour debut next week in his Adelaide birthplace at the Tour Down Under.
Adding even more lustre to Scotson’s win, he had no teammates in the race.
Scotson’s talent is undeniable – he was part of the team pursuit squad that won last year’s world title, but he missed out on Olympic selection.
He won the under-23 individual time trial bronze medal late last year at the world road championships.
Scotson also won the under-23 time trial and road race at the 2015 nationals.
His bold move to take out Sunday’s 183.6km race in hot conditions was the dramatic final act in a race that had everything.
Luke Durbridge’s race kit was covered in salt after he buried himself for Gerrans and Orica-Scott, riding at the front for nearly the whole race.
Brendan Canty made a solo attack and started pumping his fist as he approached the finish line – only to realise with horror there was one lap left.
A breakaway group that had nine riders at its peak was whittled down and finally caught inside the last 20km.
The result was in doubt until Scotson played his one card and seized the moment.
Gerrans, who revealed he was sick over Christmas, was disappointed not to win his third national title – but paid rich tribute to Scotson.
“It’s disappointing when it’s so close,” he said.
“What a great way for him to get his professional career started – I’m happy for a young guy to get the win there today, he really deserved it.”
Haas likewise tipped his hat to the winner.
“Obviously Miles was an exceptional winner today – this course has no gifts and it takes no prisoners,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, Orica-Scott dominated the women’s road race, with Katrin Garfoot beating Amanda Spratt to add the title to her successful time trial defence.