An emotional Shane Archbold and excited teenager Niamh Fisher-Black sprinted their way to respective titles at the Vantage National Road Cycling Championships in Cambridge.
Archbold, 31, out-sprinted close friend and fellow World Tour professional George Bennett to claim his first national road championship title which brought floods of tears for the likeable rider who chalked up the first national title of the year for his new Deceuninck-Quick-Step team.
Fisher-Black, 19, was part of a four-strong chasing bunch that caught solo breakaway leader Kate McCarthy within 2kms of the finish of the 108km women’s race in to Cambridge, and then out-kicked her rivals to claim overall honours as she embarks on her first year as a professional for Bigla Katusha in Europe.
It was the second of three wins for the Fisher-Black family with her win following the time trial win on Friday for her brother Finn Fisher-Black who made it a double with the under-23 victory in the road race as he joins the Jumbo Visma development squad.
Archbold has spent much of the last three years off his bike battling a series of crashes and injuries, but a brilliant performance for Bora Hansgrohe in support of ace sprinter Sam Bennett led to the move to the crack Deceuninck-Quick-Step team for the pair for the next two years.
“The title is not something I ever thought would happen especially after the last few years with so many injuries. There’s only one exception to wearing our white kit and that is for a national champs jersey. It’s going to be big,” said Archbold.
“It will definitely be seen on tv in races around the world that I am in. That is pretty exciting.
“I did not think I could get to George but the race is never over. It burns me to chase down George. I would never have put myself in that position with someone on my wheel but I went solo and did it.
“I knew he would be tired. It is a long day out there for him and I had to give it a crack.
“I’ve never given nationals a good go because it’s been too early but I had to this year with the later date and with some racing in the legs.”
Bennett, one of the sport’s best climbers, made his move over the big climb of Maungakawa on the second country loop, joined by local rider Michael Torckler. The pair pushed clear to over three minutes as they returned to Cambridge before Torckler was dropped on the second of six 9km laps around the Cambridge town centre.
While the diminutive Bennett pushed on valiantly, losing time each lap to the charging peloton before it broke to a select group including Archbold, Dylan Kennett and Aaron Gate. With the gap down to a minute, Archbold pushed clear of the chasers and reeled in a tiring Bennett with less than 2kms remaining, going on to out-kick him for the sprint finish. Kennett edged Gate for third place.
Earlier Kate McCarthy, from Waikato BOP, took things into her own hands with a break on the Maungakawa climb, to take a two-minute lead over a chasing quartet of Fisher-Black, Kate McIlroy, time trial winners Ella Harris and Teresa Adam.
McCarthy’s advantage was 1min30sec at the start of two 9km town loops, which slowly came down until the chasers caught her with 2km remaining.
Fisher-Black showed her sprinting prowess to open a gap into the final corner to hold off Harris and Adam.
“There were some big time gaps over the hill and at one stage I thought we might not catch,” said Fisher-Black. “The four of us knew we had to put our heads down to catch her. It didn’t come quickly but coming into the finish circuit we knew we had it.
“It was a pretty surreal feeling to put the hands up going over the line. It is amazing.
“It is crazy – my first year as a professional and to wear a Bigla Katashu national jersey is going to be very cool. I am going to be very proud to wear it.”
Elite men, 174km: Shane Archbold (Deceuninck-Quick-Step, South Canterbury) 4:14:42, 1; George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma, Tasman) at 2sec, 2; Dylan Kennett (St George Continental, Waikato BOP) at 56s, 3; Aaron Gate (Black Spoke, Auckland) same time, 4; Ollie Jones (Canterbury) at 1:05, 5; Dion Smith (Mitchelton Scott, Auckland) at 1:07, 6; Logan Griffin (Cabjacks-Castello, Waikato BOP) at 1:10, 7; Hayden McCormick (Black Spoke, Waikato BOP) at 1:453, 8; Luke Mudgway (Black Spoke, WCNI) at 1:45, 9; Finn Fisher-Black (U23 - Jumbo Visma, Tasman) at 2:53, 10.
Female, 105km: Niamh Fisher-Black (U23 - Bigla Katusha, Tasman) 3:05:58, 1; Ella Harris (U23 - Canyon SRAM, Otago) at 1s, 2; Teresa Adam (Waikato BOP) same time, 3; Kate McIlroy (Wellington) at 8sec, 4; Kate McCarthy (Waikato BOP) at 11s,5; Ally Wollaston (U23 - Velo Project, Waikato BOP) at 4:11, 6; Sharlotte Lucas (TIMBO-SVB, Canterbury) at 4:12, 7; Jorja Swain (U23 - Northland) at 4:12, 8; Mikayla Harvey (U23 - Bigla Katusha, Southland) same time, 9; Alicia Evans (Auckland) same time, 10.
CAPTION: Shane Archbold celebrates victory and Niamh Fisher-Black in road race action at the Vantage National Road Cycling Championships in Cambridge today. (Credit: Dave Morrison – Elko Media)