The feature men’s national title race saw no less than 15 national champions or national reps, among them Commonwealth Games medallists Hayden Godfrey, Gordon McCauley and Hayden Roulston. But it was national track squad member Marc Ryan (Timaru) who broke the race apart.
In a lightening fast race Ryan forced a breakaway after the third of the race. National road champion Hayden Roulston bridged across to him and despite the best efforts of the talented chase bunch the duo stayed away all day.
Godfrey, the defending national criterium champion, had the strong Subway Cycling Team working hard on the front for him. But Ryan and Roulston maintained a 10 second lead all the way into the last lap. But Roulston had done too much work to beat the track specialist in a sprint, and the 24 year old jumped away on the final corner to claim his first national title on the road.
Behind them Godfrey salvaged something from a frustrating race, outsprinting Athens Olympian Heath Blackgrove and Southland’s Adam Coker for the bronze.
In other racing on a mild Christchurch day Auckland’s Myron Simpson successfully defending his national under 17 criterium title. In a close race Simpson produced a withering sprint in the final 100m to beat national under 17 road champion Jason Christie (Ashburton) by a length, with Southland’s Tom Scully third.
The under 17 women’s race was dominated by national under 17 road champion Sequoia Cooper. In a very tactical race with a lot of team riding the Southland rider covered a myriad of breakaway attempts before producing the strongest sprint ahead of Levin duo Gemma Dudley and Maria Carlyle.
The highlight of the day for the big Christchurch crowd, however, came in the elite women’s national championship race when local standout Annaliisa Farrell made a return to the top level with a convincing win.
After a sedate start that saw New Zealand national track medallist Katri Laike (Dunedin) take the first sprint prime, Farrell wowed the 5000-strong crowd with a bold breakaway less than halfway through the race.
After just two laps of the tight, 1k course around Christchurch’s Oxford Terrace café district Farrell had 10 seconds in hand. No one in the main bunch, including defending national criterium champion Marina Duvnjak from Auckland, was willing to close the gap down so Denmark’s Linda Villumsen took a flyer by herself and closed the leader down in just one lap.
Villumsen, the current women’s Tour de France champion, was not eligible to take the national title. But like Roulston she played a key role in keeping the chase bunch at bay. She worked well with Farrell to build a 30 second lead with one lap to go, before easing back up the home straight to allow the Christchurch rider to take her first national criterium title.
Behind the powerhouse riding of the two winners, track specialist Katri Laike had too much punch in the final 100m for the bunch as she claimed third behind Marina Duvjnak and Christchurch’s Tamara Boyd.