• Scott Bowden races to third at the national road race in Buninyong (AusCycling/Con Chronis)Source: AusCycling/Con Chronis
Scott Bowden has fought his way back from illness, injury and being dropped from his long-term team to the podium in the elite men's national road race.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

7 Feb 2021 - 11:19 PM 

Bowden came into the men's nationals road race in Buninyong as a bit of a mystery man, unsighted in racing in 2020, and with only a decent showing in the criterium to indicate that he was on any sort of form. The 25-year-old in fact only made the decision just before nominations closed to enter the race.

"I haven't done a bike race for over 12 months so I just wanted to come over and give it a crack, glad that I did," said Bowden. "I'd been training with Richie Porte back home in Tassie, I got the impression I was going alright. I wasn't even going to come to the race until a week ago."

Come the end of one of the most tumultuous editions of the men's road race, it was Bowden easily following the moves on the climb, making the front of the race by the final lap of 16.

"It was super brutal out there," said Bowden. "I was looking for a hard race being an individual, it would be a bit easier when it got harder and there were less guys to watch out for. It's never an easy day around Mt Buninyong.

"There so many moves and I thought that I'd overraced it a bit. I was on not a bad day, but as an individual, you don't have the opportunity to fix anything. Towards the end it was all a blur, there were moves going left, right and centre. I knew on the climb from following some things that I had pretty good legs, it was the ones going over the top and the rest of the course that I had to watch out for." 

In the sprint Bowden was sighted only late, without quite the kick to pass Meyer as the West Australian collected his second road title in as many years.

"I tried to pick the right wheel," said Bowden. "It was a fast finish, but with so many guys it was pretty hard and there were a number of scenarios. With Jimmy Whelan coming from behind it was a bit of deja vu from Michael Freiberg (who won the nationals road race in 2019).

"I banked on Durbo to close the gap and had a pretty good wheel in Cam Meyer coming into the finish but didn't quite have the speed to come over Cam and Kell in the end."

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While Bowden's return to racing was a rollercoaster affair, 2020 was more a case of consistent downs as illness, injury and having a contract promised, then taken away, all were circumstances that took their toll on the former mountain biker who represented Australia at the Rio Olympics in the mountain bike and road race.

"This time last year I was sleeping 12 to 16 hours a day with glandular fever so I missed out on it," said Bowden. "Then I had a hip injury and a knee injury... all silly things, unrelated to cycling. 

"I actually got let go from the team I've ridden with for the last four years under Andrew Christie-Johnston (Team Bridgelane). I still have a good relationship with him but the owner of the team (Tom Petty) sent me an email at the end of November that after committing a ride for me I would no longer have one.

"I've signed with a French amateur team, going to France at this time is pretty crazy but I want to be a professional bike rider and that's the pathway I want to take."

With the goal of turning pro in his head, Bowden was in the shop window at the road race, a chance for professional teams around the world to like what they saw and pick up the phone to sign up the Tasmanian. That's the dream for Bowden.

"I really hope so," said Bowden, "but we'll see."