January 13, 2005 – Defending a title is one of the most difficult feats in sport, and the higher the stakes, the more difficult the challenge. In a country as lush with cycling talent as Australia, no rider has successfully defended a National TT Championship in the Elite men’s field, and to make the task that much more interesting, the 2005 championship was held on a new course, in a new venue.
The city of Adelaide in South Australia, is this year’s host for the Australian National Road Championships, and the 40km TT was held on a new course, in part to coincide with the festivities leading up to Australia’s premier stage race, The Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under, which begins here next week. The Navigators Insurance TT ace, Nathan O’Neill was the man with the bull’s eye on his back as the day began. O’Neill is a five time elite National TT champ, and everyone’s favorite pick to be the man to beat. Strong competition from Rabobank’s Rory Sutherland, and Selle Italia’s Russell Van Hout, who has been showing particular good form of late, set the stage for the battle against the clock.
The course consisted of two laps of a 20km out and back on slightly rolling terrain. Yesterday’s 42*Celsius temperatures had cooled off a bit, but the temperatures we still cresting into the 30’s , and a gentle wind kept the course, and the riders, as an honest test. In the end, it was Navigators Insurance’s O’Neill blistering the course with the fastest time of 47.41. Just in front of him at the finish were his 2 and 3-minute men, Southerland and Van Hout finishing at 1.37, and 2.47 respectively.
Following the race, Nathan said; “This is a very special win for me because all the people who support and encourage me are here–my parents, my wife, my long-time coach, Peter Day, my team director, Ed Beamon, and our team mechanic, Shane Fedon. They made this possible for me, and I appreciate them being here.”
With his blazing ride, O’Neill won his 6th Elite TT championship, and became the first Aussie to win back-to-back TT crowns. His Victory is the third in two weeks for the Navigators squad, and the second of the New Year.
1. Nathan O’Neill (QLD-Toowoomba CC/Navigators Insurance) 47.41
2. Rory Sutherland (ACT-Canberra CC/Rabobank)@1.37
3. Russell Van Hout (SA-Adelaide CC/Selle Italia)@ 2.47