Cyclists from Under-15 to over-80, both able-bodied and Para Cyclists, braved the wet conditions on day two of the Vantage Age Group National Road Cycling Championships in the central Hawkes Bay town of Waipukurau.
Around 600 riders competed in Cycling New Zealand’s first post-Covid national cycling event with Time Trials on Friday and the first of two days of Road Races over testing terrain made more challenging with the conditions
Five riders scored the double, winning today after standing on top of the podium for the Time Trials on Friday.
They comprised current Masters track world champion Penny Pawson from Counties Manukau in the 50-54 years age group; local Hawkes Bay Ramblers club riders Mary Cullen (65-69 years) and Carole Atkins (70-74 years); Otago’s Ray Dunstan (60-64 years) and talented South Canterbury prospect Jonathan Fish (Under-17).
Dunstan had not finished better than fifth in his previous outings at the Vantage Age Group National Road Cycling Championships, but ramped up his training under the guidance of former professional World Tour star Greg Henderson.
“I was training for the worlds in Canada and had planned to use this event as qualifying. I have been working with Greg which has been good,” said Dunstan, who had not expected a strong result after the exertions in winning the time trial on Friday.
“I went off the front and have some fun on attack. I spent a long time out there on my own but got caught with 15km to go and thought that was it. With 3km to go I had another crack and opened a bit of a gap and managed to hold them off.”
Fish has also reached out to a former New Zealand World Tour rider in Hayden Roulston to guide his training, and like his mentor coming from South Canterbury cycling stronghold of Waimate.
“It was a pretty calm race. It was slippery out on the course and a lot of people took corners too fast on wet wheels and there were quite a few crashes on the first two laps. But I was really happy with the performance,” said Fish who used his track speed to hold off Lewis Bower (Auckland Schools) and Oliver Watson-Palmer (Te Awamutu) in the sprint finish.
Other notable results included a bunch sprint in favour of Kirsty Watts (Canterbury Track) and Seana Gray (Te Awamutu Sports) to win the under-15 and under-17 titles respectively.
Pawson needed all her sprinting legs to hold off Amanda Till (Hamilton City) who recorded the same time in the Masters 4 (50-54 years), while Hawkes Bay rider Carol McCallum (Ramblers) edged out Kay Goodall (Tasman Wheelers) and local rider Sandy Wiggins (Cycling CHB) with all three given the same time.
North Canterbury’s Paul McLachlan, third in the time trial behind winner Gary Ferguson, managed to edge Ferguson, who races for the neighbouring Pegasus club, in a sprint finish in the Masters 8 (70-74 years) age group.
Also impressive was the 65-69 years winner Hans Bauer, father of Mitchelton Scott World Tour rider Jack Bauer, who edged Wayne Bennie (Counties Manukau) and Patrick Johnston (Wanganui) in the sprint finish.
Winners of the two oldest age groups today were well-known Kapiti rider John Pratt (75-79 years) and Hawkes Bay’s David Marett (Ramblers) in the 80 years plus division.
In the Para Cycling action, five riders retained their national titles with Taranaki’s Stephen Hills and Waikato’s Eltje Malzbender winning in the trikes; Tiffiney Perry (Morrinsville Wheelers) and Jonathan Nelson (South Canterbury) in hand-cycles and Auckland Central’s Sarah Ellington (C2), who is a current world championship medallist on the track. The other titles went to Steve Knott (Marsden Wheelers) (C5) and Lindsay File (Te Awamutu) (C4) in the testing 66km race.