It was a ride for the ages: Jack Bobridge in the early break of the national championship road race… and riding onward, solo, to the finish and a fine victory. 

– Photos: Jarrod Partridge

_JXP0454-3Bobridge is no ordinary rider. As Cameron Meyer so eloquently put it after claiming second place in Buninyong on Sunday 10 January: “He’s an animal.”

Only 15 riders finished the men’s road race of the 2016 Australian championships. The day after the race, we are speaking to others who witnessed what Bobridge did and asking for their appraisal…

Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) – 4th

“Jack Bobridge was definitely the best guy on the pitch. On the day he was the most incredible bike rider and his was the best performance but what was sad was we didn’t actually get to see how everyone else’s legs were.

“It’s actually a beautiful David and Goliath story really.

“Hats off to Jack. I think he’s a very deserving winner.

“His story of coming back… he’s been through the shit.

“He saw black smoke when he didn’t resign with Blanco when he went to Budget Forklifts for the year. He realised what it took to get back into it.

“He won that stage at Down Under which showed that his place was always to be in the WorldTour; for Luca Guercilena to identify that Jack is a winner – and he’s a bike rider – is great.

“I think Jack’s win yesterday was a great thing for him.”

Pat Lane (Avanti-IsoWhey) – 3rd

“He was absolutely incredible. I’ve never witnessed anything like it.

“GreenEdge went to the front and rode hard and I thought, ‘Maybe if he hunger-flats or something we could get back into the race…’ They had a whole team riding full-gas, they brought guys back from the break, and they couldn’t even put a dint into [Jack’s] lead…

“To see one guy do that alone was absolutely incredible.

“Hats off to him, he really deserved to win.”

Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge)

“When he is on a good – awesome – day like that there was nothing we could do. Hats off to him.”

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge)

“You can’t be anything but impressed by what Jack did yesterday.

“I’ve known Jack for a while now and when the guy pins his ears back and goes for the line there are not too many people who are ever going to catch him.

“The most dangerous thing was, he was actually alone with so many laps to go – because when Jack is by himself he can just hurt himself like no other.

“It was a ridiculously impressive ride and he deserved the win so much.

“We thought Jack would implode out there, to be honest. Most people would.

“I think everyone except Jack probably expected that he’d blow up…

“The guy was a freak yesterday and he just showed everyone that Jack Bobridge rides off emotion and that’s why everyone loves Jack – because he gets out there and grits the teeth.

“I spoke to him before the start and he was like, ‘You know, I’m not really happy about my time trial – I might go up the road…’ I thought he was just joking. ‘Are you going to come? You want to come with me?’

“I was like, ‘Ah yeah, maybe…’

“And then, on the first corner, whack! Off he went.

“There’s no fear in Jack Bobridge around the course in Buninyong.”

Nick Squillari – winner of the Gran Fondo Championship

“It’s fair to say Jack Bobridge was as stunned as anyone to how vastly different his time trial was this year compared to last. Just sneaking in to the top 10 was not in the game plan.

“Legs were good, was just ‘one of those days’.

“Not that the wider cycling community – or indeed opposition teams – knew. So when Jack left behind a cramping Bernie Sulzberger with close to half of the nationals elite road race remaining there wasn’t a huge amount of panic in the opposing team cars or peloton.

“Orica-GreenEdge’s sports direct Matthew White summed it up with ‘a very unpredictable ride from a very unpredictable man’.

“And agreed it was a ride of the likes not seen in a national road race.

“At one stage Bobridge was gaining 30 seconds a lap on the rapidly diminishing peloton.

“There was finger pointing back in the main bunch. But regardless of who may or may not have been at fault, there can be no doubt that arguably one of the still rawest cycling talents Australia has stamped his class as he went about dismantling the best of Australian cycling. All without touching his inner chainring.

“Take a bow Jack Bobridge, that was one for the ages.”

Robbie McEwen (former national champion)

“Great ride by Jack, no question.

“It’s all with hindsight now, of course, but Orica-GreenEdge’s mistake was having guys in the break who couldn’t win, and not riding behind – thus gifting the break a 10-minute head start. They needed Durbo or Haig or Howson in break. Heppy and Mitch should have been dragging the bunch around.

“Orica-GreenEdge underestimated Jack and got surprised by his long range attack and still counted on him blowing.

“Drapac and others rode off Orica-GreenEdge didn’t contribute as they have been blown away by Gerro etc in years gone by.

“Also, the BMC duo [Rohan Dennis and Richie Porte] dropping bombs put everyone on their limit and that blew up the chase somewhat.

“I thought Haas might have sacrificed for Cam [Meyer], done a fast lap at five to go…

“In any case, the chase started way too late. the racing around Buningyong circuit is so hard it makes it quite negative as 95% of guys are just hanging on for grim death.

“Amazing show of strength by Jack to maintain his lap times for so long. Looking back on his hour record attempt – I hope he recovers better from Sunday than from his record attempt!”