Seven weeks ago it looked like Steele von Hoff’s Commonwealth Games dream was over. Just hours after being announced in the Australian road race team, he crashed at a local club criterium and fractured four vertebrae.
He was in a neck brace for two-and-a-half weeks, his riding limited to the stationary trainer. But slowly and surely he recovered enough to be able to race on the Gold Coast as planned.
And he didn’t just race; he went on to win.
The race came down to a group of nine riders, with von Hoff and his compatriot Cameron Meyer among them. After attacking late, Meyer switched into lead-out mode, putting his teammate into the perfect position. Von Hoff timed his run perfectly, biding his time before opening his sprint into a strong headwind.
He hit the front late, overhauling Jonathan Mould (Wales) before going on to win by two bike lengths. Mould held on for second while South Africa’s Clint Hendricks took bronze with a courageous bike throw down the barriers.
Steele steals it!
???????? @Steelervh claims road race gold ???? in a sprint finish, just seven weeks removed from laying in hospital with four broken vertebrae.
— 7CommGames (@7CommGames) April 14, 2018
While it was von Hoff that stood on the final podium, the Victorian was the beneficiary of some terrific team support. Not just Meyer with his late attacks and lead-out work, but from all of the Australian contingent. Callum Scotson was particularly impressive, almost single-handedly reeling in a dangerous breakaway late in proceedings.
Von Hoff looked to have squandered his chance at gold with a surprising attack with 2km to go, but the 30-year-old was able to rally before bolting to the biggest result of his career.
2018 Commonwealth Games Men’s Road Race Results
1 Steele VON HOFF (AUS)
2 Jonathan MOULD (WAL)
3 Clint HENDRICKS (RSA)
4 Mark DOWNEY (NIR)
5 Hayden MCCORMICK (NZ)
6 Shane ARCHBOLD (NZ)
7 Tobyn HORTON (GGY)
8 Thomas STEWART (ENG)
9 Cameron MEYER (AUS)
10 Samuel GAZE (NZL)
CyclingTips photographer Tim Bardsley-Smith was on the Gold Coast to capture all the action from the road races. The gallery below is a selection of his best images.