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Karen Fulton takes two from two
Apr 15th, 11. Karen Fulton (Tasman Wheelers) made it two from two with a sprint finish win in the second round of the Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series in Hokitika today.
The victory continues her dominance in the series after winning Round 1 in Blenhiem last month, and winning the overall women's title last year.
"It's quite satisfying. I didn't know how I was going today. I felt really good for the last round in Blenhiem, but I haven't really raced much since then," Fulton told RoadCycling.co.nz.
Benchmark Homes' Julia Grant attacked with 10km to go, and managed to establish a 50 second lead before Fulton organised her Tasman Wheelers team to chase her down.
"Julia Grant got away in the last 10km, and she's always a bit of a threat to let go up the road. I didn't quite have the right teams to chase her down, so I ended up having to use my team to pull her back. I could feel that my legs were just getting more and more damaged. I'm not as young as I used to be!"
Fulton's hard work paid off, allowing her to contest and take the sprint win.
"Luckily I knew the finish because I had raced it before, so I knew where I had to be. Even then I still didn't know what to expect. I had Sophie Williamson on my wheel, and I was sprinting just about blind, I think I was hurting that much."
Sophie Williamson (H&J Outdoor World) took 2nd place, with Soul Star Racing's Gabby Vermunt placing 3rd.
Another tough and aggressive race
The first round of the Benchmark Homes series, which has a separate women's race for the first time this year, was praised for its aggressive racing - today's round provided much the same tactics.
"It was quite hard, actually," Fulton said of the race. "I had a puncture in the early stages of the race. I was casual about it – I didn't rush or panic because I thought I was going to get motor-paced back on. But then they told me that they weren't allowed to, so it was quite hard."
It was a testing race with Williamson and Reta Trotman (Cycling Otago) aggressive throughout, using the hills to launch their attacks. Despite their best efforts, however, the peloton kept catching them on the descents.
"I got back on just before the staircase, where Sophie decided to do one of her lovely attacks, and then another one, and then another one – I was quite hammered after that and went into damage control trying to get myself together," continued Fulton.
Today's 102km race had a 22-strong women's field, the largest ever for the Benchmark Homes Series, and Fulton is full of praise for the women specific races.
"It's a good thing. It's going to be a good thing if we can really support it and get it really happening – I'm looking at the next generation. I want some proper, good women's racing and I want these young girls to learn how to race properly.
"Teams racing is just something we don't get in this country, and if we don't start to support it now then they're going to have nothing when they come through."
The third round of the Benchmark Homes series is in Rangiora on May 19th.
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