Meyer’s criterium blitz shows all that is good about cycling

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    We learnt two things under Ballarat’s sunny skies yesterday. Firstly, that cycling is alive and well, despite recent off-field drama, and secondly, that Cameron Meyer is a very special cyclist.

    If cycling has suffered because of the Lance Armstrong affair, it didn’t show at the National Criterium Championships yesterday.

    The main street of Ballarat, with its shade trees and marbled statues, had already attracted a healthy crowd by the time the opening event of the program, the under-23 men, had rolled away from the start line.

    The crowd continued to build throughout the women’s event, before being up to three and four deep along the home straight during the men’s race, with the balconies of the local hotels also flowing over.

    Families ate picnics in the ‘infield’, while the outdoor eating areas of local cafes were jammed packed. Cycling fans and casual observers mingled happily and enjoyed the spectacle of Cameron Meyer’s brilliant solo performance.

    Oh, there were jokes about Armstrong, and the odd sarcastic utterance here and there, but this was an event to be celebrated, and the doom and gloom that surrounded the release of the Reasoned Decision had no place here. It was a day to enjoy, and enjoy it we did.

    Criterium racing always has a carnival atmosphere, and when combined with perfect weather and high speed, there is no better form of the sport. Throw Cameron Meyer into the mix and you have an event worth sticking around for.

    Meyer is one of the most versatile cyclists this country has produced, and also one of its most talented. From the helter-skelter of the madison to the loneliness of an individual time trial and everything in between, Meyer goes about his business with a minimum of fuss, collecting national and world titles at will.

    And now the multiple track and road title holder has another to add to his palmares. National Criterium champion.

    It mattered not that some, if not most, of the watching crowd were unaware of his pedigree leading into this race. In fact, the realisation that they were watching something special wasn’t immediately apparent.

    But like a slow burning fuse, it gradually dawned that something remarkable was happening. That rider in the Orica-GreenEdge colours was not going to be caught.

    Meyer had broken away early. Very early. After failed attempts by his brother Travis and then Ballarat local Patrick Shaw, Meyer launched an ambitious solo attempt. Ten minutes in and with a plethora of laps to go, he was gone.

    He stretched his lead out to around 20 seconds, and that’s where it stayed, lap after lap after lap.

    At first the crowd were unsure, feeling that this would be yet another brave but ultimately doomed breakaway. They clapped politely as he passed and wondered aloud about the worth of such an attempt.

    Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisors got organised and tried to pull him back but failed. Drapac tried. Team Budget Forklifts had a crack. The most powerful teams on the domestic circuit had no answer. One by one they fell by the wayside, the peloton dwindling as lap after vicious lap saw rider after exhausted rider pull to the side, their race over.

    A ripple of excitement pulsed through the crowd. They pushed closer to the barriers, eager to catch a glimpse of Meyer as he raced on by. Many started timing the gap. 22 seconds this time. 26 seconds the next.

    The polite applause was gone. Now there was full throated cheering, football type barracking that followed the young Western Australian all the way up Sturt street, like a Mexican wave of sound.

    It was a symbiosis of rider and crowd, each feeding off the other.

    Five laps to go… four laps… three laps… and the race is over. What’s left of the peloton is red faced and drained. This race belongs to Meyer.

    Speaking to The Roar after the race, Meyer paid tribute to the crowd.

    “They were fantastic. They were a bit silent actually about halfway through and I think they were thinking ‘This is a bit weird, there’s no way he’s going to hold on to it.'”

    “Then they started really lifting, believing that I could actually stay away and that gave me a lot of confidence. So every time I came up the home straight it gave me that little edge to get up and over that hill into the head wind.”

    This is how cycling should be. Fans being inspired by riders and riders being inspired by fans. It was cycling at its best. The future is bright.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • Roar Guru

      January 11th 2013 @ 8:58am
      Bones506 said | January 11th 2013 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      He is an amazing athelete. His solo attacks will likely define what will be a brilliant career. His attacking style is what people love to watch.

      I can’t remember the last rider Australia produced like him. He has the potential to be like Boon and Spartacus. That high end, sustained tempo.

      I think the pic is Hepburn?

      • Columnist

        January 11th 2013 @ 9:52am
        Sean Lee said | January 11th 2013 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        He was amazing last night Bones – head and shoulders above the rest. His brother actually made another break right near the end to try and claim second, but was soon swamped. That would have been nice, the brothers going first and second! That definitely isn’t Cameron Meyer in the photo (thankfully I don’t provide the photos!).

        • Roar Guru

          January 11th 2013 @ 11:36am
          Bones506 said | January 11th 2013 @ 11:36am | ! Report

          I think he is a real threat for the RR. He is able to ride solo and hold his pace.

          I think OGE should (and most appear to be) investing in him as a future GC rider. He can Time Trial very well and he also has excellent pace in his legs.

          He really has the potential to develop into a great classics rider as well. I would love to see his power outputs from last night.

          • January 11th 2013 @ 11:38am
            Jamie said | January 11th 2013 @ 11:38am | ! Report

            The power outputs I’d like to see were from Durbridge’s time trial on Wednesday afternoon. That was an amazing ride….

            • Columnist

              January 11th 2013 @ 12:18pm
              Sean Lee said | January 11th 2013 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

              Durbridge was flying Jamie. Porte probably matched him early, but couldn’t sustain the effort, while Rohan Dennis was very, very impressive as well. I like Durbridge alot and he is only going to get better. exciting prospect.

              • Roar Guru

                January 11th 2013 @ 1:17pm
                Bones506 said | January 11th 2013 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

                Agree on Durbo – the numbers would be big. He will rival Tony maryin and Spartacus in the coming years for TT world Champ I think.

    • January 11th 2013 @ 10:31am
      Jamie said | January 11th 2013 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      Great write up Sean! Great to see Cam get up for the win again. Look forward to seeing him do some more special things this year…..

      • Columnist

        January 11th 2013 @ 9:47pm
        Sean Lee said | January 11th 2013 @ 9:47pm | ! Report

        Thanks Jamie. It was great to be able to write up some of the positive stuff after such a tumultuous end to last year.

    • January 11th 2013 @ 10:52am
      Aaron said | January 11th 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

      isnt that michael hepburn in the picture?

      • Roar Guru

        January 11th 2013 @ 11:37am
        Bones506 said | January 11th 2013 @ 11:37am | ! Report

        That’s Hepburn. He is another one who has a massive future ahead of him.

    • Columnist

      January 11th 2013 @ 9:26pm
      Lee Rodgers said | January 11th 2013 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

      That sounds like a race and a half, thanks for bringing it to life. Hopefully it’s the start of a successful season for him, be good to see him do well. Have his odds changed for the road race?

      • Columnist

        January 11th 2013 @ 9:42pm
        Sean Lee said | January 11th 2013 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

        He could be a huge chance for the road race. I suppose it depends on whether or not he rides support for Simon Gerrans. But then you look down the list of GreenEdge riders competing and any of them could win it really. i think it will come down to who’s feeling good on the day and how the breakaways pan out. Michael Matthews, Leigh Howard, even Gossy despite the hills (he was second here one year), Travis Meyer (he has won here before) and Simon Clarke could all win on their day. I have no doubt that Cameron Meyer could win this race, but it will depend on what his team’s plan of attack is as to whether or not he gets the opportunity.

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