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Solo success for NZ Criterium Champion Pip Sutton
Dec 10th, 11. It might have been just 30min, but the women's elite race at last night's NZ Criterium Nationals had plenty of action culminating with young Pip Sutton crossing the line victorious.
Sutton is just 19 years old, but this is her second title in the Senior Women's category this year. Back in May she won the road race title in the National Club Championships.
She was amongst many of New Zealand's experienced international riders in the 30min +1 lap race in downtown Takapuna, but after winning the Hamilton City Criterium just a few weeks ago, and placing 2nd in this event last year, she had already proven what she lacked in experience she makes up for in speed and smart racing.
By the finish line Sutton was 200m clear of the field. She had attacked with 7min to go and managed to hold off the motivated chase group to take the NZ Criterium Champion title and with it the coveted silver ferned jersey.
Earlier in the race it was Mico Protain's Serena Sheridan who provided the action.
For the first two laps the Kiwi international sat on the front of the peloton as the riders dashed through the main streets of Takapuna where large crowds lined the footpath, and the bars behind them.
After a few familiarisation laps, Sheridan, who enjoyed success in Europe this season, stole off the front. With young Auckland rider Racquel Sheath in tow she built up a solid lead, while behind her a few riders tried unsuccessfully to bridge the gap.
Sheath eventually dropped back to the main bunch, while Sheridan dug deep to keep out the front. After 21min of racing it was Toni Strong (nee Bradshaw) who eventally joined Sheridan down the home straight with World Duathlon Champion Mel Burke not far behind sitting between the leading duo and the bunch.
The front three worked together for a couple of laps and while 2009 Criterium Champion Rushlee Buchanan tried unsuccessfully to bridge up, her turn of pace helped the field pull back the leaders.
It was during the following lap, after 26min of racing and with the field all together, that Sutton made her big move.
She stayed out alone to hear the bell ringing to signifiy one lap to go, while behind her Sonia Waddell pushed hard on the front of the bunch with defending champion Kaytee Boyd tucked in behind - a combination which proved victorious in the Taupo road race late last month.
Sutton was too strong though, and the bunch had to settle for a fight for the other podium placings.
In the select bunch sprint Boyd threw her bike across the line, but it was Buchanan who sneaked in for 2nd place, Boyd 3rd.
The women's race in pictures
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