Christchurch cyclist Sam Horgan gave the New Zealanders something to cheer about with an outstanding victory in the elite men’s time trial on the opening day of the UCI Oceania Road Championships in Queenstown.
Horgan edged out his fellow Subway Pro Cycling teammate Paul Odlin by just over four seconds to claim the honours, the high point of the career to date for the rider who turns 25 next month.
A strong contingent of riders from across the Tasman showed their strength, winning all the other divisions over a testing out-and-back time trial course at Point Arthur near Arrowtown in ideal conditions.
Horgan and Odlin produced the goods late in the day, with the result reversing their first and second placings at the January’s New Zealand Championships. The winner clocked 46:23.75 for the 40km course, with an afternoon breeze and making it more testing.
“The win means a lot. It’s been a goal of mine since the start of the year,” said Horgan. “I’ve been training exclusively for it. I was buoyed by my performances at the elite nationals.
“Paul (Odlin) and I have a good rivalry. I am happy to see Paul going so well but we are definitely motivate eachother and push eachother quite hard even in local time trials.
“The course was hard. That final climb was really testing. And the surface was quite dead and quite slow.”
Horgan went into the event in good form after winning the tour of Canterbury last weekend including breaking Odlin’s record for the 16km time trial. He will now look to support his Subway pro Cycling team in Sunday’s elite men’s road race over six laps of a 25km circuit.
Former track world champion and Subway Pro Cycling general manager, Hayden Godfrey was thrilled with the effort of both riders.
"It could have been either of them on the day. They were never more than 10 seconds apart in time checks. Subway Pro Cycling has two very talented time trial riders. Both came down wanting a medal, preferring a gold one, and for both to get first and second is a fantastic result."
While it was green and yellow colours winning the men’s race, the rest of the day belong to riders in green and gold.
GreenEdge professional Shara Gillow showed her class to dominate the elite women’s time trial in an Australian clean sweep.
Gillow, eighth at the world championships time trial two years ago, was in a class of her own, clocking 33:51 for the demanding 25km out-and-back course.
The Sunshine Coast cyclist was nearly two minutes clear of her nearest rival, compatriot Gracie Elvin (Jayco-AIS) with Bridie O’Donnell (Team Vanderkitten-Focus) third.
The leading New Zealander was talented Aucklander Georgia Williams in her first major event in the elite ranks.
Auckland’s Nick Bain was sandwiched between the Australians in the under-19 time trial over 25kms. Alex Morgan (Jayco-VIS) took out the title in 32.18, with Bain only eight seconds back in the runner-up spot. It was a tight battle for the leaders with Miles Scotson (SASI) third only four seconds behind Bain with Te Awamutu’s Hayden McCormick in fourth, pipped for a medal by 29/100ths of a second.
Australia’s Allison Rice proved best in the under-19 women’s time trial over 20kms, winning in 20.05 in an Australian trifecta with Emily Roper (Queensland) second in 29:19 and Georgia Baker (Tasman) third in 29:35.
The best of the kiwis was Auckland’s Devon Hiley, riding for the national team, in seventh in 30:45.
South Australia’s Damien Howson successfully defended his men’s under-23 time trial title.
Howson, a member of the Jayco AIS team, monstered the 40km out and back course in 45:44 to claim the title for the second straight year. It continues a strong run of form for Howson, who recently broke world champion Jack Bobridge’s record for the famed Norton Summit hill climb in Adelaide last month.
However it was a blanket finish for the other podium placings with fellow South Australian Edward Bissaker second in 47:03, holding off compatriot and world omnium champion Michael Freiberg by 3/100ths of a second. South Canterbury’s Jason Christie was fourth less than a second behind.
The attention now turns to the road races with the under-19 and elite women tomorrow and the under-19, under-23 and elite men on Sunday.
Elite men 40km: Sam Horgan (Subway Pro Cycling, NZL) 46:23.75, 1; Paul Odlin (Subway Pro Cycling, NZL) 46:28.39, 2; Michael Culpitt (Team Budget Forklifts, AUS) 47:05.11, 3.
Under-23 men, 40km: Damien Howson (AUS) 45:44.73, 1; Edward Bissaker (AUS) 47:03.51, 2; Michael Freiberg (AUS) 47:03.54, 3. Also: Jason Christie (NZL) 47:04.85, 4.
Under-19, 25km: Alexander Morgan (AUS) 32:18.65, 1; Nick Bain (NZL) 32:26.92, 2; Miles Scotson (AUS) 32:30.21, 3. Also: Hayden McCormick (NZL) 32:30.50, 4.
Elite women, 25km: Shara Gillow (AUS) 33:51.42, 1; Gracie Elvin (AUS) 35:46.64, 2; Bridie O’Donnell (AUS) 36:09.59, 3. Also: Georgia Williams (NZL) 37:05.63, 4.
Under-19, 20km: Allison Rice (AUS) 29:05.40, 1; Emily Roper (AUS) 29:19.77, 2; Georgia Baker (AUS) 29:35.90, 3. Also: Devin Hiley (NZL) 30:48.97, 7.