Johnston makes it six, Sherwell claims maiden title at 2024 AusCycling Marathon National Championships  

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Brendan Johnston has claimed a stunning sixth marathon national title, while Bendigo’s Courtney Sherwell won her maiden national title at the 2024 AusCycling Marathon National Championships.

Wagga Wagga turned on the warm weather for this year’s event held at Pomingalara Reserve, after two years of wet and cold conditions. But with it brought dust for the riders to contend with over the 89.1km race.

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‘I’m proud of myself to have that fight’: Johnston

After three laps of the course, and 3 hours and 37 minutes on the bike, the elite men’s race came down to a sprint finish.

A group of eight riders came through the feeding zone on the first lap before being whittled down gradually to a select group which included Johnston, Daniel McConnell, Scott Bowden, Cameron Ivory and Tasman Nankervis by the final lap.

But it was Johnston, McConnell and Bowden who broke away from the others on the closing stages of the race as they emerged from the trails for the last time, and onto the final circuit of the crit course, before the final sprint.

McConnell was the first to attack, but Johnston and Bowden managed to stick with him, and Johnston lined up the final 50 metres perfectly to take the thrilling victory.

Johnston was overcome with emotion after the win.

“It feels pretty good, it’s been a tumultuous summer for me. I’m really lost for words,” Johnston said.

“Even this course is not good for me. I have to try and make the race hard the whole race, for 5 to 10 seconds but it always comes back. I was out of options when we were coming to the line here. I didn’t want to sprint, but I was just happy I was strong enough to get back to Dan and lined the sprint up pretty well. It’s been tough, I’m just proud of myself.”

“I’m proud of myself to have that fight. Sometimes it’s tough to dig so deep mentally and keep fighting and believe you are going to make it in the end, and I’m stoked I did.”

‘I knew that endurance is my thing’: Sherwell

The gaps appeared early in the elite women’s race, with Isabella Flint and Courtney Sherwell taking an early lead on the first lap.

The pair worked together and looked set to stick together to the finish, before Sherwell opened up a gap on Flint on the final lap.

In the end, Sherwell would hold a 23 second lead to Flint, with time to savour her first national title as she crossed the finish line.

“It feels pretty amazing, I’ve just gotten back from the US, and I’ve got a bit of a head cold this week. But I’m so, so stoked, this is my first national jersey so I’m really proud,” she said.

It caps off a run of successful results for Sherwell in the Belgian Waffle Series in America, which she said had set her up nicely for the longer marathon race.

“It’s just a really solid day out there, so you are on the pedals the whole time and you know this course was exactly the same as that, so I’m used to grinding it out all day, never letting up so I think that really translated well today,” she said.

“I think everyone started to feel the fatigue in the legs as the race went on and I knew that endurance is my thing and as the race went on for me hopefully, I wouldn’t slow down so I just had to back myself and thankfully it worked.”

Ella Bloor rounded out the elite women’s podium, 2 minutes 15 seconds back.

See the full results from the 2024 AusCycling Marathon National Championships here.

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