While Olympic selection is his focus, Brendan Johnston proved he still is a force in the marathon discipline taking out his second straight Elite Men’s Australian Marathon Championship at Derby, Tasmania on Sunday.
The Canberra rider had too much class at the end of the 90km race to claim back-to-back green and gold jerseys ahead of Tasman Nankervis (VIC) and Scott Bowden (TAS).
“I was super nervous coming into the race. I didn’t expect to win it once let alone twice so really happy with how I’m going with my form,” an elated Johnston said.
“Had great amount of power which I didn’t think I would have in the last lap and pretty thankful for that and really enjoyed it to the finish.”
After a early shower before the start, which would ensure a muddy day out for the riders, it would be a pack of four that would take up the challenge with local hope Bowden, Nankervis, Johnston and XCM National Series leader Andy Blair having broken away from the pack.
For Bowden, who had only recently returned from a bronze medal performance at the Oceania Championships in Queenstown, it was his maiden voyage over the long distance.
“That’s my first ever marathon on the mountain bike but it was super good fun out there and I think the muddy conditions made it much harder but it was great.”
As Blair dropped off the pack by lap three, the trio would wage a mini war heading into the final climb of the race, before three soon turned into two, Bowden succumbing.
“On the climb, we all kind of put in a few little surges but it was Tas put the hammer down on bit of a rough section on the climb and I didn’t quite have the legs and I didn’t feel to bad but thought of might have been able to bridge across but in the end they were just two strong,” the 21 year old said.
That left Bendigo’s Nankervis and the defending champ, who at one stage thought he’d be batting to make the podium.
“I was struggling and I didn’t know how to play it with these guys climbing so well,” said Johnston.
But, having conquered the course last year, and with a green and gold jersey on the line, the Trek rider found that extra push and made the break from the 20 year old Nankervis.
“After the river crossing Trekky was just too strong. It was a bloody hard race.”
Johnston conquered the distance in a time of 4:34:17 more than a minute ahead of Nankervis.
“They are really good riders and I was not expecting to ever beat them easy or at all.”
Blair would finish fourth with fellow Specialized team-mate Shaun Lewis in fifth.
Full results: http://my6.raceresult.com/51401/?lang+#1_2FCCD2