Gillett makes impact as King of the Mountain

RHYS Gillett went into the national elite men’s road race determined to make an impact.

Exactly what that meant he was unsure, but he was determined to put on a show in his backyard in the biggest event of the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships at Buninyong.

He did make that impact.

Gillett, from Ballarat, left the 183.6km event with the “King of the Mountain” jersey.

Although he would have liked to have finished closer to the business end of the championship race, the African Wildlife Safaris rider did enough to make the 23,000 spectators lining the 10.2 circuit take notice.

He secured the blue polka dot jersey by dominating the Mt Buninyong climbs for more half the event.

Gillett was part of a 17-man breakaway which established itself on the second of 18 laps.

He then proceeded to claim the maximum points on nine consecutive laps.

While no one could match his points after that, he still had a difficult task ahead.

He needed to finish the race to claim the jersey. Gillett admitted to “blowing up” in the closing laps as he was dropped from the lead group.

There was nothing easy about it but, with the support of training partners Pat Shaw and Matt Clark, he made it the finish in the last group – more than nine minutes behind the top three of Simon Gerrans, Cadel Evans and Richie Porte.

Gillett said his primary objective had been to make a big enough impact to earn a last-minute call-up for the Tour Down Under in South Australia later this month.

He adjusted his plans also to go for the “King of the Mountain” once he began to accumulate significant points.

Gillett, who finished 15th in the time trial at Burrumbeet on Thursday, was the second Ballarat rider to secure a points jersey at the championships.

Pat Shaw donned the sprint title in the criterium in Ballarat on Thursday night.

Gillett, who also won a points jersey in a under-23 road race championship, continues an excellent run for Ballarat riders as the  elite men’s road race “King of the Mountain”.

Damien Turner went back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.

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