The future of New Zealand road cycling looks bright after some outstanding racing at the RaboDirect Club Road National Championship in Wanganui yesterday.
The under 19 men proved a race of attrition. From the first climb the tempo set by a dominant group of riders including Fraser Gough (Hawke’s Bay), Dion Smith (Auckland), and James Oram (Auckland), all members of the Pure Black Racing’s development squad, was enough to cull the field of 54 starters down to just 17.
This group maintained an astounding pace for next 100 kilometres, increasing it at key points in order to drop more riders, with only four left for the final kilometre.
Gough had the legs in the sprint to take the title from Te Awamutu’s Hayden McCormick with Smith taking the bronze medal.
Alexandra’s Sophie Williamson won the under 19 girls’ road race in a sprint from Georgia Williams (Auckland), adding another national title to her name.
The senior women saved all of the action of the 110km race until the final sprint where 18 year old Philippa Sutton (Hamilton) was first across the line in a seven-strong sprint. It was an impressive display from Sutton in her first national race in the senior ranks.
“I’m a pretty aggressive rider. I was told not to be silly out there. My game plan was just to see what happens, but it turned out pretty well,” Sutton said.
Commonwealth Games representative Gordon McCauley was unable to secure the master’s 35-39 year old road race title to make it double with the time trial title he won on Thursday. McCauley was outsprinted by fellow Counties Manukau club member Karl Murray who spent most of the race alone in the lead before being joined by McCauley in the final laps.
The championship concludes today with the senior and under 23 men’s race.