New Zealand riders Jason Christie and Georgia Williams have made strong starts to the BikeNZ campaign at the UCI Road World Cycling Championships in Copenhagen today.
Christie (Ashburton) and Williams (Auckland) both places sixth in the time trials through the streets of downtown Copenhagen, the opening races of this yearís world championships.
The 20 year old Christie was 12th through the first time check and worked his way to ninth fastest after the first lap at the 17.6km mark. He continued to lift his pace to improve to place sixth in 44:47.61 for the 35.2km test won by Luke Durbridge, a member of Australiaís world champion team pursuit combination on the track earlier this year, in a stunning 42:47.13.
The Ashburton rider was pleased with his performance in tricky conditions.
ďIt was pretty good. I think it could have been a little bit better but I am happy with sixth in the world for under-23s. I canít complain with that,Ē Christie said.
ďIt was windy today. Because it was through the city I didnít think there would be as much wind but with open roads it was quite windy. It was fine but cold though. It was big wide roads but technical in parts with some cobble sections too.
ďI was told to start conservatively but in the end of the day you just have to ride hard. Itís the only way to get up there. I was probably one of the fastest on the course over the last half of the second lap.Ē
There was plenty of support for the riders in the opening races of the world championships in this cycle-centric city where 60 per cent of the population ride bikes, most of them as their primary means of daily transport.
ďThere were a lot of Danish people out today supporting on the side of the roads. This is an amazing city for cycling with so many people out with city or town bikes all the time here. Itís unreal. You donít see that back home.Ē
Itís Christieís only ride of the championships and he will now return home after enjoying a strong season in Europe riding for the Chinese-owned Marco Polo Cycling team along with Timaruís Marc Ryan as well as riding with the BikeNZ Under-23 team and backing Julian Dean at the London Olympic Test event where he was the leading kiwi.
ďIíve learned some more every year and I feel I can make some big progress in the next year or two and step up again. Iím still young and have a few more years still at under-23s.Ē
He will prepare for the Tour of Southland where he will support Hayden Roulston and then build up for next yearís road season where he hopes to gain selection to a professional team in Europe.
Williams (Auckland) finished sixth in the 13.9km junior womenís time trial to continue a strong season.
She won a silver medal in the individual pursuit and was fourth in the team pursuit at the recent junior track world championships in Moscow.
The teenager started strongly to be fifth fastest through the 6.7km time check, 12 seconds off the top ranked rider, but slowed over the second half of the 13.9km circuit to clock 20:02.58, which was 34 seconds behind winner Jessica Allen (Australia).
Tomorrow Linda Villumsen is in action in the elite womenís time trial, while James Oram and Fraser Gough will compete in the junior men time trial.
Men's under-23 time trial, 35.2 km: Luke Durbridge (Aus) 42min 47.13sec, 1; Rasmus Christian Quaade (Den) at 35.68sec, 2; Michael Hepburn (Aus) 46.47, 3. Also: Jason Christie (NZL) 2:00.48, 6.
Junior Women time trial, 13.9 km: Jessica Allen (Aus) 19min 18.63sec, 1; Elinor Barker (GBR) at 1.84sec, 2; Mieke Kroger (Ger) 2.80, 3. Also: Georgia Williams (NZL) 43.95, 6.