Five and a half years ago 20 year old Alexis Rhodes lay in the intensive care ward of a German hospital after sustaining severe injuries, including seven broken bones in her back and chest trauma in the 2005 road accident that claimed the life of her friend and Australian team mate Amy Gillett.
It's been a long haul for the gutsy 26 year old South Australian who in October last year was considering retirement after being disappointed with her performance at the World Championships in
"That's bike racing - that's what you love about the sport and what you hate about the sport," said Rhodes who now has a two year deal to ride with Garmin-Cervelo which she hopes will help her gain selection for
"I'm not the poor girl who was injured," said Rhodes who has endured an emotional roller coaster since the accident. "It wasn't so much the sympathy ... I don't like making up the numbers, so to be known as 'aw, the poor girl who got by a car', it's not what I wanted to be.
"I wanted to be winning races," she said adding that today's result is a career best. "One hundred per cent - to win a national road championshp and then wear the jersey in
"Judith has really put it in the gutter and I'm not half the bike rider Judith is," said
"I was able to get back on again and I was really patient, because I knew this was a really fast finish in a headwind," she explained. "I knew I had to wait and wait and wait and then managed to get the win."
Ryan was also celebrating at the finish despite being pipped by Rhodes who she had recommended to her team as a rider to sign.
"I was so rapt, crossing that finish line and seeing her on the other side of me," said Ryan. "For Alex, it's her first national road championship after the things that have happened (to) her in the past, she still has an amazing future.
"She's been just a bundle of strength," said Ryan. "Seeing her commitment and dedication to the girls she's ridden for ... she's really strong, I'm looking forward to having her as a team-mate."
The ten lap race of the Buninyong circuit featured both elite and U23 division women with another South Australian, Carlee Taylor, 21, winning the U23 title with her seventh place across the line. She was 55 seconds behind
Earlier in the day,
"This is my biggest win ever and hopefully it opens doors for me," said Dyball, a reserve for the Australian U23 team for last year's UCI Road World Championships in
In a ten man sprint for the remaining medals
A group of twelve riders, including Thursday's criterium champion Ben Grenda and the Jayco AIS trio of Aaron Donnelly, Alex Carver and Nick Aitken set the pace early attacking on the first of twelve laps of the 10.2km circuit.
Their lead over the main peloton reached just over six minutes at the mid way point of the race and was maintained until a solo attack from
Despite gaining a lead of almost 20 seconds, Straub was reeled in with one and a half laps remaining by a group of pursuers led by Carver, Aitken and Grenda, however a fast chasing peloton brought the race back together at the start of the final lap.
Dyball launched his decisive solo attack just as the peloton made its way onto the Mt Buninyong road climb for the last time. As many in the field marked the strong Team Jayco AIS, Dyball increased his lead and despite a desperate attempt by the peloton to reel him in over the final few kilometres he held on to claim the victory in a time of 3:22:05, fifteen seconds ahead of the the chasing group of ten.
"There was always a different leader and the break looked like it was going to stay away, but the next minute it was right in front of you. You never knew what was going to happen," said Dyball who had five members of his family on hand to witness his victory.
"I was pretty comfortable for most of the race, it was only the last few laps that really hurt, and in the last fifty metres and when I put my hands in the air, I cramped," he added.
Known for his climbing abilities, Dyball, who claimed victory in the arduous Mt Hotham stage three climb at the 2010 Tour of Bright, praised the work of his coach Patrick Jonker over the past few months.
"For this race, that's what Jonker was trying to do, improve my climbing as much as possible, just to focus on my strong points and use the climb to my ability.
"(When I attacked) I thought it was the perfect time to go with it and I got a gap pretty quickly.
"(But) I had to really dig deep on that last lap and I never thought I had it until I saw the finish line," said Dyball.
"The way results go, this is the one of which I am most proud," said Haas, 21, who rides for the Genesys Wealth Advisers team.
"You never know with Buninyong, it does things to the head and the body that you don't expect," he explained. "But my team did a fantastic job, the Genesys boys, and I am really proud of them and their efforts as it really helped me get there in the end."
Similarly Lewis was happy to finish on the podium.
"There wasn't a lot I could do, on my own, in the end," said Lewis, 21. "I am a little disappointed but still third place in an Australian championship is still quite a result (although) I did come here to win."