Aussie Focus

Hill battles to Tour de Brisbane victory

Sam Hill (Nero Continental) has won his first National Road Series race in nearly two years at the 2021 Tour de Brisbane, attacking the breakaway with Joe Cooper (Giant Racing Team) and coming home solo after dropping the two-time New Zealand national road race champion in the final kilometre.

Hill launched a last-ditch attack in the final 500 metres to roll across the finish line solo ahead of former NRS overall winner Cooper in the heart of Brisbane.

A mid-season transfer back to Nero Continental from Team BridgeLane has proved a happy homecoming for Hill, who last tasted glory at the NRS level during the 2019 Tour of the Tropics in far north Queensland with Nero.

"I feel on top of the world – I’m just full of adrenaline right now, you can’t beat it,” Hill said. "I was fading at the end... obviously I had great legs today, but the last ten kilometres into town hurt so bad."


68 riders left the King St start line in the heart of Brisbane on a sun-filled winter's day, in what was the second edition of the Tour de Brisbane NRS one-day race. Many teams and riders who had intended to start the race were unable to attend with the prevailing coronavirus restrictions over Queensland the country at large.

An early crash coming out of the Legacy Highway tunnel caused early panic in the peloton before a last-minute course change resulted in the NRS Men tackling a shortened 108km race.

The course change resulted in a much earlier than expected ascent of Brisbane's famous Mt Coot-tha, with the early slopes of the lead-up to the climb seeing an initial four-rider breakaway of Aiden Sinclair (Oliver's Real Food Racing), Nick Pedler (NCMG Criterion Racing Team), Dylan McKenna (Nero Continental) and Damien Vesely (Tandem Co x Attaquer Pro Cycling) jumping away from the peloton.

With the main bunch splintering behind on the climb, Vesely crested the first KOM point solo before being caught following the first descent of Coot-tha.

The next move was a larger composed of riders from several teams, able to build a gap of 90 seconds to the chasing peloton on the fast highway sections of the course.

A quartet led by Hill and Cooper joined the front of the race heading into Birdwood Terrace, and the duo wasted no time in continuing with their attack, moving away from the breakaway and cresting the second ascent of Coot-tha together.

Their gap of 16 seconds over the major climb would stretch out to 30 seconds along the Western Freeway and would remain constant until the final time up Coot-tha, where Hill made an unsuccessful attempt to attack and drop Cooper off his wheel.

The pair worked together again on the run back into town, trying to hold off a strong chase from Ryan Cavanagh (St George) and Rhys Robotham (Oliver's Real Food Racing). Cooper dropped off Hill through one of the final corners, with the Nero rider pushing home with time to celebrate his maiden Tour de Brisbane win.

"It’s my strength to go long distance, I definitely prefer a much longer effort,” Hill said of his breakaway with Cooper. "(Mt) Coot-tha was great but it’s still only a seven-minute effort at the end of the day, whereas I much prefer going all-out for an hour and a half.

"When I saw a chance to get in a breakaway, even though it’s on a fast highway, I thought you beauty I’ll take this and I’ll just open the legs up and see what happens."

Hill and Cooper bridged across to the initial breakaway and then attacked with Cooper, with the cooperation with the New Zealander hard to come by as they tried to stay clear.

"I thought I was much stronger at that moment in the race before we hit the second climb, and Joe was a little hesitant to work with me because he thought it was useless with 20 guys chasing chopping off," said Hill. "I convinced him to roll through and then I thought he wasn’t pulling too hard, so I should be able to get rid of him on the final climb and I couldn’t, in fact he nearly dropped me at the top, so I knew I had my work cut out for me.

"But it turned out I needed him – I wouldn’t have stayed away on the last ten-kilometre stretch without him, so in the end, I put in an attack which I think caught him off-guard with 500 metres to go."

Ryan Cavanagh finished third to complete a high-quality podium, while Oliver's Real Food Racing's Rhys Robotham was fourth and won the young rider classification.

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5 min read
Published 12 July 2021 at 3:03am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS