Auckland’s Mike Northey made up for the disappointment of last year’s second place with victory in tonight’s Jerry Clayton BMW Criterium National Championships in Auckland.
Northey rode a smart race, sitting tight in the bunch before making his move in the final few laps to cross the line comfortably clear of Southland’s Tom Scully and Canterbury’s Daniel Barry in downtown Takapuna.
The 26 year old Northey was pipped on the line in a sprint last year with Hayden McCormick, who is competing in the UCI Tier One track event in Invercargill.
“Last year I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t know it was one lap to go when I was attacking and it caught me off guard a bit, but this year I was ready,” Northey said.
“I was hoping I could hang on. I knew I had to go when I did, so I’m stoked. To have the national champion’s jersey will be a massive deal while I am racing in the United Kingdom next year.”
With the pace on from the start, the elite men’s race saw several unsuccessful breakaway attempts before Northey made his move in the final laps of the technical 45 minute street race.
“It was good fun. I think the speed itself might have been a bit slower this year but I think it was a lot more technical, there was a lot more attacking.”
Northey will take time off before returning to Europe to race with UCI Pro Continental team Madison Genesis, where he will be joined runner-up Scully, who moves from Team Raleigh.
International racing experience also proved beneficial for Auckland’s Emily Collins, who took out the elite women’s race decided over 30 minutes of racing plus one lap on the tight 1.1km circuit.
Collins took the sprint in a frantic dash to the line to pip Alexandra teenager Sophie Williamson in her debut in the elite ranks, while veteran Nelson rider Karen Fulton was third.
Collins, who has enjoyed a successful season UCI pro elite team Wiggle Honda, was heavily marked as one of the race favourites. She had to shelf any plans of breaking away on her own and manoeuvre herself for a sprint finish.
”I was feeling comfortable. I was hoping to get away with a few of the other girls like Sophie Williamson who was riding really aggressively, but every time I went with her the whole field was on my wheel,”Collins said. “In the end I just put my chances on a sprint and it paid off.
“I was a bit surprised I was feeling so good because this is my off season but I’ve been back in training for a few weeks, doing some motor pacing out with dad, so I had some good speed.”
The 23 year old, who took out the first win for the new Wiggle Honda team in Europe this year, will return to the crack pro team next year.
“It’s been a big season, really long, but the racing over in Europe is amazing and heaps of fun. It’s been a big step up but I’ve loved every bit of it.”
Conditions were perfect for racing, with riders enjoying warm temperatures, light winds, and plenty of sunshine.
In other races Auckland’s Mikayla Harvey took out the under 17 girl’s title ahead of Emma Cumming from Invercargill and Madeleine Park of Auckland.
Campbell Stewart (Palmerston North) claimed a convincing win in the under 17 boy’s race from Aucklanders James Fouche and Bradley Leitch.
The open men’s race was a fast-paced battle with Hamilton’s Ryan Christensen winning ahead of Blair Treymane and Matt Cronshaw.
Results, Jerry Clayton BMW Criterium National Championships:
Elite men: Mike Northey (Auckland) 1, Tom Scully (Invercargill) 2, Daniel Barry (Christchurch) 3.
Elite women: Emily Collins (Auckland) 1, Sophie Williamson (Alexandra) 2, Karen Fulton (Nelson) 3.
Under-17 Girls: Mikayla Harvey (Auckland) 1, Emma Cumming (Invercargill) 2, Madeleine Park (Auckland) 3.
Under-17 Boys: Campbell Stewart (Palmerston North) 1, James Fouche (Auckland) 2, Bradley Leitch (Auckland) 3.
Open men: Ryan Christensen (Hamilton) 1, winning ahead of Blair Treymane (Waikato) and Matt Cronshaw (GBR) 3.