• Ben Carman takes the win in Bilambil (Instagram @carmanben)Source: Instagram @carmanben
Ben Carman (Nero Continental) was active and on the attack all day, and capitalised on an opportunity to take the win, jumping clear of his breakaway rivals on the final ascent of a climbing-heavy course to take a solo victory.
By
SBS Cycling Central

4 Dec 2020 - 7:10 PM 

Carman came back to Australia with Nero Continental after a strong 2019 season in France, he's built a strong career over the last six years racing on the tough domestic circuits in Europe. Today, Carman got the chance to show some of his best form in Australia, unleashing his climbing ability on the steep slopes around the hills of the Tweed Valley. 

“It’s really cool. It’s up there with my favourite wins," said Carman. “I’ve got a few big wins in Europe as well, but so far I haven’t been able to come home and show off my form in Australia. It’s been really cool to come back and give it a crack.”

Carman signed with Nero, and immediately put his best foot forward with a top ride for 13th at nationals, and has been in impressive form in Queensland state racing as well.

“It’s been awesome," said Carman. 'I’m in a really good place at the moment, I’ve got a lot of support on and off the bike. The run-in to this has been perfect, I’ve been left with nothing wanting and I’m probably enjoying cycling more than I ever have before, which is the biggest thing."

Carman and Nero hunting for their third stage win of the National Road Series, after Jay Vine won the Day 1 time trial and the Day 4 summit finish. A 17-kilometre loop of Bilambil with more than 400 metres of elevation a lap was the scene for a brutally fast set of opening circuits. 

"Our plan was to tear the race apart from the gun," said Carman. "That worked way better than we expected to be honest with essentially Jay, myself and Sam Jenner (Team Bridgelane) off the front for the first two and a half laps. Jay just did a great job keeping me fresh and setting me up."

The attack was brought back eventually, 55 kilometres into the race, but with the race of attrition claiming more and more victims each lap, there were barely 20 riders in the main bunch with just half of the race completed. Carman was able to escape again with Sam Hill, Nick White (both Team Bridgelane) and Lionel Mawditt (Cycle House), with Matt Ross (CycleHouse) and Elliot Schultz (Memil) trying to bridge across. Ross made it, Schultz didn't after a mechanical problem. 

"From there the race was in pieces and I just followed, followed all day. I knew that, aside from Jay, I was one of the better climbers here, so I tried to keep as fresh as I could until that last climb where I knew I had it in me to go over the top and come in solo.”

Carman won the race just 4 seconds ahead of Mawditt, with White coming in for third. There was a lot of consternation with Vine attacking early, with many considering him the best rider in the race. Team Bridgelane and NRS individual leader Brendan Johnston and his teammates committed hard to neutralise the move, with Vine a threat to Johnston's series lead. Carman benefitted from the extra attention that was focused on Vine.

“That was the feeling we’ve been getting all week, so we really tried to play off that dynamic," said Carman. "I think Jay is hands-down the strongest guy here. With that came a lot of pressure on him which I suppose took the pressure off me.”

“We sat down last night and talked about what we thought would happen and we thought we could take a win. There are a lot of positive vibes and it’s cool to come away with it."