Watch: First national champions crowned for 2017

Caleb Ewan and Jessica Allen victorious in Australian national criterium championships

Caleb Ewan and Jessica Allen (both Orica-Scott) are the first two national champions of 2017, winning the Australian national criterium championships in Ballarat, Victoria.

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In a double success for Orica-Scott, Allen took the first victory of the night with a fine solo win, before Ewan capped off a perfect evening for the Australian team by successfully defending his title.

Contested over 40 laps of a 1.1km rectangular circuit, the early stages of the men’s race were animated by a solo break by former Team Sky rider Nathan Earle (Team Ukyo).

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Eight chasers then set off in pursuit of Earle, forming a lead group of nine after 28 laps, and building a maximum advantage of 30 seconds.

However, that group was caught in the final lap, with Ewan emerging from a poor position in the peloton to beat Scott Sunderland (IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness) and new Condor-JLT signing Brenton Jones into second and third in the bunch sprint.

“I can’t remember how many times I’ve ridden on this course, I’ve done well from getting a lead out and coming from behind,” Ewan said.

“I think when I got boxed off the wheel in the last corner, I didn’t panic too much. If I didn’t have the confidence I think I would have panicked and waited too late for my sprint.”

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The 33km women’s race saw a cagey opening half hour with numerous breaks attempted, but none able to create a significant gap.

It was only with around 20 minutes of racing remaining that a group of five riders went clear, including Allen and defending champion Sophie Mackay (Specialized Women’s Racing).

Allen then attacked from this group, opening a large lead over her the chasers by the finish, with Kendelle Hodges (Colavita Bianchi) and Shannon Malseed (Holden Women’s Cycling Team) completing the podium.