Last year’s elite winners Racquel Sheath and Regan Gough will defend their respective titles at the Vantage Criterium National Championships on Auckland’s North Shore on Sunday.
The Rio Olympians head a powerful field that includes Under 23 Mountain Bike World Champion Sam Gaze, with around 150 cyclists competing in eight races around the inner CBD course at Takapuna.
Sheath competes alongside her fellow Vantage Elite Track teammates Rushlee Buchanan, the 2014 and 2015 Criterium National Champion and current road race national champion, Bryony Botha, Michaela Drummond, Kirstie Klingenberg (nee James, Southland), Elyse Fraser and Jessie Hodges.
Added to this is Waikato’s experienced Pip Sutton, the 2015 Under-17 champion Ally Wollaston (Auckland) and 2014 Under-17 winner Georgia Danford (Auckland).
Gough has recently returned from his first year of a professional road contract with the European-based An Post-chain Reaction Continental team, to rejoin the Vantage New Zealand Track team in preparation for the upcoming Oceania Championships.
He will take on fellow elite track squad teammates Nick Kergozou (Southland) and Hugo Jones, while there will be competition from James Fouche (Auckland), who has competed in USA and Europe this year after finishing under-23 runner-up in both the road and time trial nationals, and seasoned professional Taylor Gunman, who has enjoyed a strong year with the British Madison Genesis team.
There will be interest in the efforts of Gaze, while unmatched on the mountain bike, is also more than useful on the road, competing in the famed under-23 Gent-Wevelgem cobbled classic in Belgium this year after finishing fourth in the elite time trial at the national championships.
Others to watch include Luke Mudgway, who rode for the RTS Monton Racing team based in Asia, and the experienced Roman van Uden.
There are a number of young guns to liven up the elite grade including Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Hub riders Oscar Elworthy, Aaron Wylie, Harry Waine, Harris Fogelberg, Josh Kench, Liam Cappel, Theo Gilbertson in the men and Dayna Haythorne, Danford, Jenna Merrick, last year’s under-17 winner Stella Nightingale and Renee Young.
The exciting multi-lap course takes in Hurstmere Rd and The Strand in the Takapuna CBD, with free entry for spectators. Racing begins at 2.30pm on Sunday 12 November with the Men’s Street Race, Open B Grade Men and Women, Under 17 Girls, Under 17 Boys, Elite women around 4.40pm with the Elite men schedule to start around 5.30pm.
CAPTION: Action from the Vantage Criterium National Championships. (Photo courtesy Scottie T Photography)