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Two first time champions after Club Nats finale
May 6th, 12. The 2012 NZ Club Nationals came to a close today with two riders gaining first time successes after the combined Elite/U23 174km race.
The two winners have two quite different stories and had two quite different days.
Sam Horgan is certainly well known in NZ cycling. Today the Le Race winner and current Oceania Time Trial Champion sprinted to victory for his second win of the week but his first NZ senior national road race title.
On Thursday he claimed the time trial title and with today's road race win he matched the double success he had in 2009 - but that was in the U23 ranks.
While the Pegasus Cycling Club rider lifted his arms in a traditional cycling salute as he crossed the finish line, a few places back Simon Binney (Tauranga Cycling Club) crossed the line with only a cautious smile - he was not 100% sure, but he thought he might have been the 1st U23 rider to finish. He was right.
Today's success was only Binney's second ever victory - the first was in a local fun ride. Now he has a national title.
"It's my best win, my second win only - ever," said an elated Binney when RoadCycling.co.nz confirmed to him he was the U23 champion. "My first win in my first ever club nationals I've been to. I'm happy with that, I'm stoked."
Early in the race a break of seven built up a sizeable lead, and while many riders tried to bridge up it was not until after 100km that the layout of the race changed.
By the third passing of the feed station, the front group was down to three - Michael Naylor (PNP), Dan Warren (Rambers) and Daniel Molyneux from Hamilton's Dynamo club.
Chasing 4min behind was Dan Waluszewski (Mico Protrain/PNP), Dillon Bennett (Cycling Southland) and Binney - the only U23 rider up the front of the race.
Back in the bunch 1min after the chasers, Horgan indicated to his supporters he was feeling fine as he worked his way up the hills around the back of the 29km course. He had a plan.
By the time they hit the feedzone for the penultimate time, Binney was 3min behind the leading trio and with him for company was the current leader of the Benchmark Home series, Daniel Barry (Tasman Wheelers) - the reduced peloton was another minute back.
Unfortunately, Barry suffered a sugar deficit and faded out of the race altogether, but Binney, who was still looking strong, eventually found three new riders for company in the final lap - Brad Tilby (Tasman Wheelers), Andy Hagan (PNP) and Horgan, but the quartet still had a two minute gap to pull back.
"It was really touch and go," explained Horgan. "I was just hoping that the guys up the front were going to tire. For the first five laps it didn't look like they were going to. But it all come together on the last lap it was pretty much slow motion."
"Andy Hagan was luckily enough to have a teammate up the road in Michael Naylor so he got a bit of a free ride. Which made him even more dangerous when we finally caught the front. Thank goodness I had the most of the sprint."
“That was unbelievably hard," he said.
After so long out the front, Warren was impressive to be able to hold on for 2nd place with Hagan stealing 3rd from Molyneux, another of the original break riders.
Binney crossed 45sec later, the solo winner of the U23 category.
Elite Men, 176km: Sam Horgan (Pegasus) 4:27:13, 1; Dan Warren (Ramblers Cycling Club Inc) same time, 2; Andrew Hagan (Port Nicholson Poneke Cycling Club) same time, 3.
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