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Michael Vink takes all the glory at NZ Champs
Jan 8th, 12. 20 year old Michael Vink took all the glory at the NZ Elite National Championships today - first over the line, 1st U23, course record and he gained his 2nd national title of the weekend.
The Mico Protrain rider from Christchurch held off the chasers to win the gruelling 183km race by just six seconds to claim the overall honours and successfully defend his under-23 crown.
He is the first rider to take out the under-23 national title and win the overall line honours in the race which is held alongside the Elite Men's field.
Vink also claimed the double after winning the under-23 time trial on Friday, while today's winning time of 4:38:09 was a course record, more than 5min faster than Hayden Roulston's time in 2011.
Last year Vink impressed with a brave attack that saw him reeled in only on the final lap by Roulston, although the young rider held on to take the under-23 title.
Today his solo attack on the penultimate lap worked, holding off a fierce charge from Pure Black Racing's James Williamson (Alexandra) and Team Bissell pro Patrick Bevin (Taupo) who came up just six seconds short.
Williamson finished second to claim the elite men's honours with Bevin third overall and runner-up in the under-23 division.
Vink (Mico Protrain) dropped Jeremy Vennell (Team Bissell) on the penultimate climb up the testing Dyers Pass hill to open up a 45 second buffer with a lap remaining.
"I would have liked Vennell to stay on for longer but at the bottom of the climb he said he was gone. So at that stage I had no choice but to go solo and time trial my way to the finish," Vink said.
Pre-race favourite Jack Bauer, about to begin his World Tour career with Garmin Cervelo, made the initial charge from the handful of remaining chasers, but it was Bevin and Williamson who took up the cudgels. The margin was reduced to 35 seconds at the top of the climb and 17 seconds with 2km left. The gap was 12 seconds at the 1km mark but Vink managed to hold on to record an outstanding win.
"This win means a lot to me, not just that I won but how I won it. It has given me a lot of confidence because I know I can win this level of race now.
"The national champs are always tough and fast races because there's no prize for finishing second. I knew the chasers would be coming at me but at that stage you can't worry about them. It was a matter of putting your head down and giving it everything you have. If it was good enough then it was good enough.
"I always knew it was possible to win the overall race as well. I set myself really high goals and that was one of them."
"If I can get some good results I hope this will lead to a professional contract. The team have some great race starts around Europe in some top stage races."
It proved a bitter-sweet time for the 22 year old Williamson who found out before Christmas that PureBlack Racing team cannot fund their planned European programme after a promising maiden year in the USA in 2011.
He answered in the ideal way and hopes his national title will help secure a spot in a professional team this year.
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