By Miles Evans
Australia’s Nathan O’Neill admitted to pulling off a ‘hit and run’ mission after sealing an emphatic victory in the men’s time-trial at the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday.
O’Neill, who won the 40 kilometre race along St
Kilda’s foreshore by a staggering 24 seconds, had only been given permission to compete by his Health Net pro cycling team a matter of days before the Games started.
“We did some negotiations late in the day to secure the right to represent Australia in the race,” said the Manchester 2002 bronze medallist.
“I am off to the States for a race on Friday so it was a bit of a hit and run mission but at least we did it and it’s very satisying to be Commonwealth champion.”
The 31-year-old Queenslander set the pace at every checkpoint along the course and completed victory in 48 minutes 37.29 seconds with team mate Ben Day claiming the silver in 49:01.67.
The bronze went to New Zealand’s Gordon McCauley with 49:50.70.
O’Neill dealt with the blustery coastal conditions with gusto.
“I like the tough conditions so I can settle into a nice, fast rhythm. For me, the harder it is the better.”
For his part, Day admitted that O’Neill, the Australian national champion, was going to have to be headed if he had any chance of securing gold.
“I always knew he would be the man to beat but I was happy with what I did out there. He put in a great ride. Racing in front of these Australians is just awesome, it’s really worth seconds,” said Day, who finished third behind O’Neill in the national championships.
The predicted challenge from England’s trio of riders failed to materialise.
Steve Cummings, the individual pursuit bronze medallist, and Stuart Dangerfield finished 14th and 6th respectively.
And Paul Manning’s task was made doubly difficult when one of the organisers’ course vehicles hampered his turn at the 20k marker, forcing him to stop and losing all his tempo.
Manning, who finished ninth, was hoping to add to the individual and team pursuit golds he won at the Melbourne Park velodrome last week.
O’Neill’s win completed an Australian double in the day’s time-trial events after Oenone Wood led a clean sweep of the medals by the host nation in the women’s event. — Reuter