Steele Von Hoff wins Australian national criterium championship

by Matt de Neef

Steele Von Hoff (NFTO) has won the elite men’s criterium at the Australian Road National Championships for the second year in a row, sprinting to victory ahead of Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) and Scott Sunderland (Budget Forklifts).

Von Hoff powered out of the final corner on the Sturt Street circuit in the heart of Ballarat, catching up to and then passing Caleb Ewan as the finish line approached.

Ewan went into the race as the hot favourite, despite being in just his first season in the senior ranks and despite having just one teammate on the startline: Leigh Howard.

The early stages of the 40-lap race saw several small groups break clear of the main field, but nothing was able to stick for any great length of time. Paul van der Ploeg (Charter Mason) broke clear to take the first intermediate sprint after 10 laps, and followed it up 10 laps later to secure victory in the sprint competition.

Aaron Donnelly (Avanti) took the sprint points in lap 30 of 40 as part of a two-rider escape group with Pat Lane (African Wildlife Safaris). With 10 laps to go Ben Hill (Charter Mason) broke clear of the reformed main field on his own before being joined four laps later by Cameron Bayly (Search2retain). The pair held a nine-second advantage over the peloton with five laps to go.

Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Travis Meyer (Drapac) broke clear of the main field with four laps remaining, eventually making contact with Hill and Bayly on the penultimate lap. But a slight hesitation from the group on the back straight of the final lap saw the race come back together as the finish line approached.

Leigh Howard led the field through the final corner before Caleb Ewan launched an early sprint on the long, uphill drag to the finish. Steele Von Hoff powered up alongside Ewen in the final 100m before passing the young Orica-GreenEdge rider to take back-to-back national criterium titles.

Von Hoff said after the race that racing alongside Ewan at the Bay Crits earlier in the week helped him to learn how to beat the 20-year-old speedster.

“I learned from stage 3 at Portalington where he absolutely whooped me … that I left it too late to change gears”, Von Hoff said. “So I dropped my gears earlier [tonight] and as soon as he went I was right on him in his slipstream so all I had to do was sit there and come around him.

“But even when I did, he’s such a fast little guy — he’s going to be the next Mark Cavendish for sure.”

Von Hoff was asked in the post-race press conference whether Garmin-Sharp’s decision to not renew his contract in 2015 provided extra motivation in this evening’s race.

“I wasn’t even thinking about that to tell you the truth”, Von Hoff said. “I was just thinking about representing my new team NFTO and taking the [Australian] colours over there and they’re going to be delighted with the crit jersey over in Europe.”

Von Hoff will line up in the nationals road race on Sunday and is hoping for a good showing.

“I want to have a good race because I want to make the Tour Down Under [composite National] team. Because at the moment, if I don’t have a good one on Sunday, my season is pretty much done until March 8 when my first race over in Europe is”, Von Hoff said. “But if I have a good one on Sunday I can potentially do Tour Down Under, Herald Sun Tour and the Cadel Evans Race. So that’s the goal.”

Earlier in the evening Chris Hamilton (Vic/Avanti) won the U23 men’s criterium title after getting clear in the final third of the race in a three-rider group. Hamilton was joined by David Edwards and Mat Ross (VIS) in the three-rider group, the latter being dropped with four laps to go.

Hamilton and Edwards entered the final lap together before Hamilton, a 19-year-old mountain biker from Bendigo, broke clear to take the win. Edwards was second while Jesse Kerrison (BMC Development Team) was third from the bunch.


1. 2 Steele VON HOFF (VIC) 1h01:17
2. 22 Caleb EWAN (NSW) +0
3. 45 Scott SUNDERLAND (WA) +0
4. 107 Anthony GIACOPPO (WA) +0
5. 161 Angus TOBIN (NSW) +0
6. 47 Neil VAN DER PLOEG (VIC) +0
7. 28 Shannon JOHNSON (VIC) +0
8. 29 Brenton JONES (VIC) +0
9. 113 Benjamin HILL (ACT) +0
10. 78 Fabio CALABRIA (VIC) +4
11. 38 Malcolm RUDOLPH (QLD) +4
12. 169 Marc WILLIAMS (ACT) +4
13. 95 Dominik DUDKIEWICZ (VIC) +4
14. 153 Alexander SMYTH (VIC) +4
15. 109 Stuart GRIMSEY (VIC) +4
16. 117 Cameron IVORY (NSW) +4
17. 63 Adam ALLEN (QLD) +4
18. 154 Tyler SPURRELL (VIC) +4
19. 34 Ryan MACANALLY (QLD) +4
20. 172 Russell GILL (SA) +8
21. 77 James BUTLER (VIC) +8
22. 25 Leigh HOWARD (VIC) +8
23. 46 Paul VAN DER PLOEG (VIC) +8
24. 71 Jonathan BOLTON (WA) +8
25. 30 Oliver KENT-SPARK (VIC) +8
26. 122 Matthias KIERNAN (VIC) +8
27. 157 Joel STRACHAN (VIC) +8
28. 165 Kane WALKER (VIC) +11
29. 13 Travis MEYER (WA) +11
30. 171 Samuel WITMITZ (VIC) +11
31. 65 Cameron BAYLY (SA) +11
32. 103 Cameron FRASER (NSW) +11
33. 115 Craig HUTTON (NSW) +11
34. 168 Edward WHITE (NSW) +11
35. 32 Patrick LANE (VIC) +13
36. 167 Aaron WATTS (NSW) +18
37. 155 Chris STACK (SA) +26
38. 149 Rico ROGERS (VIC) +31
39. 75 Graeme BROWN (NSW) +31
40. 6 Michael ROGERS (ACT) +33
41. 148 Tom ROBINSON (TAS) +39
42. 162 Mark TUPALSKI (ACT) +41
43. 142 Cameron PETERSON (NSW) +43
44. 36 Mark O’BRIEN (VIC) +54
45. 160 Joshua TAYLOR (NSW) +1:00
46. 94 Callan DOUGLAS (VIC) +1:00
47. 166 Joel WALSH (NSW) +1:14
48. 41 Samuel SPOKES (NSW) +1:17
49. 40 Stuart SHAW (ACT) +2:53
50. 39 Patrick SHAW (VIC) +3:27
51. 44 Aaron DONNELLY (NSW) +3:29
52. 120 Kristian JUEL (QLD) +3:31
dnf 19 Bernard SULZBERGER (TAS)
dnf 51 Mitchell MULHERN (QLD)
dnf 54 Julian JACOBS (WA)
dnf 68 Josh BERRY (NSW)
dnf 80 Ewyn CARTER (VIC)
dnf 85 Dane CRAWFORD (NSW)
dnf 92 Luke DAVISON (SA)
dnf 108 Declan GREGORY (VIC)
dnf 110 Tim GUY (NSW)
dnf 128 Jake MAGEE (VIC)
dnf 137 Tommy NANKERVIS (VIC)
dnf 139 Luke OCKERBY (TAS)
dnf 158 Jacob SUTHERLAND (VIC)
dnf 174 Glenn O’SHEA (SA)
dns 43 Wesley SULZBERGER (TAS)
dns 101 Luke FETCH (VIC)
dns 135 James MOWATT (VIC)
dns 144 Dylan PIERRE-HUMBERT (WA)
  • Race time: 1h01:17
  • Average speed of the winner: 43.1 km/h
  • Number of starters: 66
  • Riders abandoning the race: 14

Decisions of the Commissaires Panel

  • Rider 25 Leigh HOWARD fined $50 for frame number altered (Annexure 9, Item 4)
  • Rider 169 Marc WILLIAMS fined $50 for frame number missing, requirement for event (Rule 3.3.03)

Intermediate Sprints

Lap 10 Sprint

1. 46 Paul VAN DER PLOEG (VIC) 3 pt
2. 65 Cameron BAYLY (SA) 2
3. 75 Graeme BROWN (NSW) 1

Lap 20 Sprint

1. 46 Paul VAN DER PLOEG (VIC) 3 pt
2. 110 Tim GUY (NSW) 2
3. 95 Dominik DUDKIEWICZ (VIC) 1

Lap 30 Sprint

1. 44 Aaron DONNELLY (NSW) 3 pt
2. 32 Patrick LANE (VIC) 2
3. 113 Benjamin HILL (ACT) 1

Sprint Classification

Final Result

1. 46 Paul VAN DER PLOEG (VIC) 6 pt
2. 2 Steele VON HOFF (VIC) 3
3. 44 Aaron DONNELLY (NSW) 3
4. 22 Caleb EWAN (NSW) 2
5. 65 Cameron BAYLY (SA) 2
6. 32 Patrick LANE (VIC) 2
7. 45 Scott SUNDERLAND (WA) 1
8. 113 Benjamin HILL (ACT) 1
9. 95 Dominik DUDKIEWICZ (VIC) 1
10. 75 Graeme BROWN (NSW) 1
dnf 110 Tim GUY (NSW) 2

Editors Picks