Liam Walsh sprints to breakthrough win at 2023 Oceania Road Race Championships

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Team BridgeLane’s Liam Walsh has won both the elite and under-23 men’s Oceania Road Race Championships in a taxing 2023 edition of the race at Mt Crosby in Brisbane.

The 21-year-old from Brisbane edged out ARA Skip Capital’s Brady Gilmore at the line in a sprint finish to claim the first big road win of his career and resign Gilmore to his second silver medal in as many years.

Walsh’s breakthrough victory comes at the tail-end of a busy first block of racing for the year, which began with two U23 top-10 finishes at the 2023 Road Nationals, followed by a UCI WorldTour debut at the Tour Down Under in Australian colours, and the 2023 Track Nationals and Oceania Track Championships in the last fortnight.

Walsh said his win was a moment to savour.

“It feels really good. I lost out on a chance to win a national title last year with a mechanical so to have the race set up in my favour again by my BridgeLane teammates and to be able to finish the job is very satisfying,” Walsh said.

“I got a dream sit for the last 20km and I got set up so well that I didn’t bind up and I just lined him up and had a nice, long kick.

“This was such a tough course over all the rolling hills – there was not a lot of rest.

Oceania
Liam Walsh had enough power to come over the top of Brady Gilmore in the sprint finish.

“All the BridgeLane guys went all in for me today so I really appreciate their help. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Walsh's attention now switches to an upcoming European block in the coming months, which is now boosted by the addition of an Oceania champion jersey to wear for the next 12 months.

“It'll be a huge honour to wear the Oceania colours in Europe this year and I’ll hopefully get more good results in them as well,” Walsh said.

“At the moment I’m mostly targeting some tours and maybe a couple of bigger one-day races but I'm most concerned with just being as fit and ready to race as I can for when I head over.

“Every race over there is important.”

New Zealand’s Tom Sexton from UCI ProTeam Bolton Equities Black Spoke finished third to complete the elite men’s podium, while ARA Skip Capital’s Declan Trezise finished fourth to earn the final step of the U23 men’s podium.

Oceania
The 2023 elite men's Oceania Road Race Championship podium.

Walsh will not be the only Balmoral Cycling Club product in Oceania colours for the rest of 2023 after the breakaway heroics of 16-year-old Will Heath (Scody Racing p/b Balmoral) in the junior men’s Oceania Road Race Championship.

Heath and his breakaway companions Levi Hone (Echuca/Moama Cycling Club) and Josiah Grierson (Team Rauland) dared to dream from an opening lap attack, establishing a gap that ballooned out to four minutes at one stage around the undulating circuit.

Under increased pace, the trio’s advantage would drop in the closing lap, but the gamble from the peloton would prove a costly one in the end, with all three members of the breakaway earning a place on the podium.

Heath’s margin of victory was 30 seconds back to Hone in second, with Grierson a further six seconds back in third.

“I always wanted to gamble on the break so I just followed the wheels and thought ‘oh, what’s the worse that will happen’,” Heath said.

“Could always just come back into the bunch and then we heard we had four minutes and thought we can do this and started to believe in it.”

Oceania
The 2023 junior men's Oceania Road Race Championship podium.

2023 Oceania Road Race Championships medallists

Elite Men Road Race

Gold: Liam Walsh (AUS)
Silver: Brady Gilmore (AUS)
Bronze: Tom Sexton (NZL)

Elite Women Road Race

Gold: Sophie Edwards (AUS)
Silver: Matilda Raynolds (AUS)
Bronze: Ruth Corset (AUS)

U23 Men Road Race

Gold: Liam Walsh (AUS)
Silver: Brady Gilmore (AUS)
Bronze: Declan Trezise (AUS)

U23 Women Road Race

Gold: Keely Bennett (AUS)
Silver: Isabelle Carnes (AUS)
Bronze: Sophie Marr (AUS)

Junior Men Road Race

Gold: Will Heath (AUS)
Silver: Levi Hone (AUS)
Bronze: Josiah Grierson (AUS)

Junior Women Road Race

Gold: Talia Appleton (AUS)
Silver: Felicity Wilson-Haffenden (AUS)
Bronze: Nicole Duncan (AUS)

Para-cycling Road Races

Men C2: Darren Hicks (AUS)
Men C3: David Nicholas (AUS)
Men T2: Declan Hart (AUS)
Men H3: Alex Welsh (AUS)
Men H4: Jono Nelson (NZL)
Men Tandem: Steven Kemp (AUS)
Women C1: Kaitlyn Schurmann (AUS)
Women C3: Paige Greco (AUS)
Women C4: Meg Lemon (AUS)
Women C5: Julie Hooper (AUS)
Women H3: Lauren Parker (AUS)
Women Tandem: Candice Kennedy (AUS)

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