Cycling Southland's Sophie Williamson has upset some of America’s best elite cyclists to win the latest round of the USA Criterium Series today.
The 18 year old is in the United States as part of her preparations for the UCI Juniors World Track Championships on home turf in Invercargill next month.
Williamson was competing along with a number of her fellow BikeNZ teammates as well as riders from the under-23 national squad in the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
She showed plenty of aggression with a number of attempts to break off the front of the pack.
“The weather has been wet here and there were some signs that it may have rained during the race. So we told Sophie that if it looked like rain then she should attack,” said BikeNZ national junior coach Ross Machejefski.
An attack 20 laps out managed to stick, going clear with American professional Kate Veronneau. The pair pushed out to 40 seconds, the gap closed a little but they put the pressure on and almost lapped the field with a lap remaining.
Williamson showed the superior sprint to claim an excellent win, all the more impressive given the recent tough workload in training.
“The riders have had a tough block of training. The guys especially have just come off a huge and tough week so they were a little flat tonight which was expected,” Machejefski said.
“But Sophie was really impressive. This was a very good field and the result is very encouraging given we are still in hard work phase.
“It is great experience for all the riders to compete at this level and excellent preparation for them.”
Fellow junior world teammates Dylan Kennett (Waimate) and Liam Aitcheson (Alexandra) did well to finish in the main pack of the men’s race.
Under-23 national riders Piet Bulling and Cam Karwowski, both of Invercargill, also impressed finishing in fifth and 11th respectively in the men’s race, with Bulling third in the bunch sprint after two riders went clear.
This completes the campaign for the pair who competed in Europe with the BikeNZ-Pure Black Racing under-23 group, followed by more racing in the USA. Bulling returns to New Zealand while Karwowski will head back to Europe for two months of racing for a team in Belgium.
The junior women’s endurance squad leave New Zealand tomorrow to join up with Williamson and the men based at Trexlertown in Pennsylvania where they will begin a block of track racing and training in preparation for the world championships.
The UCI Juniors World Track Championships take place at the Stadium Southland Velodrome, Invercargill from 22 to 26 August.