The Oceania elite men’s cycling road race honours proved a winning double for Canterbury riders.
Christchurch rider Paul Odlin outlasted a classy field over a demanding course near Queenstown to claim the elite men’s title over 153kms today.
His win follows the time trial victory by fellow Canterbury and Subway Pro Cycling teammate Sam Horgan earlier in the championship, where Odlin finished runner-up.
The 33-year-old made his move on the steep climb up Littles Rd on the last of six gruelling laps of a 25km circuit near Lake Hayes-Arrowtown, going clear along with Australian Nick Aitken (Jayco AIS). It proved the winning move as the pair pushed clear from a four-man break that had split the field.
Odlin had too much experience to hold off the young Australian in the final sprint, with Aitken finishing second across the line to take out the Oceania under-23 title.
The Christchurch rider, who won the national time trial in January, said the victory on such a demanding course was somewhat of a surprise.
“I don’t consider myself a hill climber but I had good gearing which made a difference,” Odlin said.
“It is a race that I fought for the win. You can’t get that level of satisfaction in a time trial which is what I am focussing on now. It was tactical and had so many variables. If they fall in your favour it is a bit more fun.
“I gave myself a few options on the last lap and if the break didn’t work on the steep climb, it could have been on the second climb on the course. I had a good feeling about that climb though. I was going up it well.
“I led it out and waited to the last moment. It’s pretty easy to win from there.”
Odlin and Aitken had broken clear after two laps clear at the front with Australians Mark O’Brien and track rider Sean Finning.
Aitken was pleased with his performance.
“I did not quite win the sprint for the overall honours but I won the under-23s so I have to be happy with that,” Aitken said.
“Odlin put some pressure early on the last lap up the climb and split it and we just worked together to the finish and managed to hold them off.
“It opens up a spot for the worlds later in the year and now I just have to focus on getting some more runs on the board.”
Aitken took the honours from fellow Australian Michael Freiberg, the current world omnium champion, with talented South Canterbury rider Jason Christie third.
Earlier Australian Bradley Linfield edged out Christchurch’s Hamish Schreurs in a sprint finish to claim the under-19 title over 102kms of the same circuit.
Linfield said the Australians had come to Queenstown with a big cgroup keen to secure the title and an additional spot for the world championships later in the year.
The strong Australian contingent dominated the championships, winning 22 of the 30 medals.
Under-19 men 102km: Bradley Linfield (Australia) 1; Hamish Schreurs (NZL, Christchurch) same time, 2; Tom Vessey (NZL, Alexandra) same time, 3.
Under-23, 153km: Nick Aitken (AUS, Jayco-AIS) 3:54.05, 1; Michael Freiberg (AUS, Jayco-AIS) at 4m43s, 2; Jason Christie (NZL, Ashburton) at 8:56, 3.
Elite men, 153km: Paul Odlin (NZL, Subway Pro Cycling) 3:54.05, 1; Mark O’Brien (AUS, Team Budget Forklifts) at 1:08, 2; Sean Finning (AUS, Victorian Institute) at 2:32, 3; Sam Horgan (NZL, Subway Pro Cycling) at 4:43, 4; Joseph Chapman (NZL, L&M Group Racing) at 8:59, 5.