Record breaking conditions brought debut national honours for former Olympic rower Sonia Waddell and Commonwealth Games track medallist Wes Gough in the time trial to kick start the RaboDirect New Zealand Road Cycling Championships in Christchurch today.
Gough, a member of New Zealand’s crack team pursuit combination, took advantage of favourable winds to scorch home in the 40km time trial at Lincoln near Christchurch in 48 minutes 50.48 seconds. This broke the record set by Gordon McCauley in winning on the same course in 50:10 last year.
Earlier Waddell improved on her fourth placing last year to dominate the women’s contest over 25kms in 34:53.59, to add to the national club road title earlier in the year. It also ensured the time trial title remained in Cambridge, following on from Melissa Holt who won for the past three years but bypassed the championships this year.
Ashburton’s Jason Christie edged out defending champion Michael Vink (Christchurch) to win the under-23 title by just nine seconds.
Gough (Waipukurau) scored a telling result to beat off fellow pursuit team-mate Jesse Sergent (Feilding) and Melbourne-based Greg Henderson by 28 seconds and 1 min 07sec respectively.
“It was a really quick time and some fast conditions today. I was actually quite surprised myself with the time when I crossed the line,” Gough said. “It’s great to win after coming second last year.
“The goal was definitely to win although there some strong riders today. At this time of year riders are at varying levels of fitness and you just never know. I was one of the early riders and it was a bit of a waiting game until the others came through.
“It was pleasing for me and a pleasing start to the year for my Subway team.
“I haven’t thought about the time trial going forward. My first priority will still be the team pursuit on the track for the London Olympics. But I would like to continue with some good TT results during the year.”
Waddell was fourth last year in the event won by her fellow Cambridge friend Holt. She finished 20 seconds ahead of fellow Waikato rider Jaime Nielsen and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Alison Shanks by 33 seconds.
“I was really thrilled with that one today. I’ve been getting some seconds and thirds in recent times so it was great to crack the win especially at this level,” Waddell said.
“This is huge for me. This is the biggest event in New Zealand and a very quality field. The BikeNZ system is in such good stead that it is producing some very good athletes so to be able to line up and go faster than them is a pretty cool achievement.”
Waddell said she will compete in the road race tomorrow before returning to the para cycling programme on the tandem to the world track and road championships with blind cyclist Jane Parsons mixed with a busy life as mother of three children on the family farm in Cambridge.
Tomorrow is the women’s road race over eight laps and 123kms of the demanding circuit in Cashmere Hills-Hoon Hay where S series champion Cath Cheatley (Wanganui) is chasing her third title in a strong field including Jo Kiesanowski (Christchurch), defending champion Rushlee Buchanan and fellow Commonwealth Games rider Kaytee Boyd (Auckland), national series champion Serena Sheridan and mountain star Rosara Joseph.
The men’s race is on Sunday.
RaboDirect National Road Cycling Championships, time trial
Elite women, 25km: Sonia Waddell (WaikatoBOP) 34:53.59, 1; Jaime Nielsen (WaikatoBOP) at 20 seconds, 2; Alison Shanks (Otago) at 33 seconds, 3; Rushlee Buchanan (WaikatoBOP) at 47s, 4; Kaytee Boyd (Auckland) at 1:39, 5; Dale Tye (Southland) at 1:42, 6; Sarah Morrison (WaikatoBOP) at 1:51, 7; Gabrielle Vermunt (Southland) at 2:29, 8; Britta Martin (Tasman) at 2:38, 9; Josie Giddens (Canterbury) at 2:53, 10.
Under 23 men, 40km: Jason Christie (Mid-South Canterbury) 49:41.56, 1; Michael Vink (Canterbury) at 9 seconds, 2; Alex McGregor (Otago) at 1:43, 3; Josh Atkins (Canterbury) at 1:46, 4; Taylor Gunman (Pure Black - North Harbour) at 2:15, 5.
Elite men, 40km: Wes Gough (Subway - East Coast North Island) 48:50.48, 1; Jesse Sergent (West Coast North Island) at 28 seconds, 2; Greg Henderson (Team Sky - Otago) at 1:07, 3; Jeremy Vennell (Bissell – ECNI) at 1:15, 4; Peter Lathan (Subway – Waikato) at 1:24, 5; Paul Odlin (Subway – Canterbury) at 1:48, 6; Marc Ryan (Mid South Canterbury) at 1:27, 7; Shem Rodger (Pure Black – Waikato) at 3:08, 8; Chris Nicholson (Tasman) at 3:14, 9; Sam Horgan (Subway – Canterbury) at 3:23, 10.