Grace Anderson (Auckland Central Cycling Club) took the under 23 title at the Vittoria Club Road National Championships in Alexandra after spending about half the race in a small breakaway group. Amanda Jamieson (Cycling Central Hawkes Bay) took second, around 1:30 back, with Ione Johnson (Port Nicholson Poneke Cycling Club) taking third.
The under 23 women started with the senior women, facing four laps of the 20 kilometre race circuit. Although it was a beautiful clear day, it was absolutely freezing for the start, making it quite tough on the riders. Due to a mechanical in the bunch the neutral section was extended well beyond its initial distance, which made the cold even more of a factor. “Everyone was freezing and it was hard to tell how your legs felt because it was so cold,” said Anderson.
This certainly played a factor in the bunch remaining together over most of the first two laps, before the break of the day formed. “I knew from the start I wanted to get in a break, I’m quite a good climber but knew there were also some really strong climbers out there. I saw the break form on the second lap of Amelia Watkinson and Georgia Williams after the tight left hand turn. I attacked and joined them in the break as I knew how strong both of them were. I was really struggling at the beginning my legs had only just started warming up,” said Anderson.
Although she felt she was the weakest of the riders in the break, Anderson did her best to pull as hard as she could to help ensure the success of the move. “We were all working really well together but I knew there was a very strong bunch behind us. The gap varied changing between 1.30 to two minutes. It wasn’t till the last lap that I really believed we could stay away. The wind picked up round the back of this course on our final lap and that’s when it became really tough,” she said.
Fortunately for Anderson, the two riders with her were both in the senior division, which meant that as long as the break stayed clear she was assured of a win in her division. “With both Georgia and Amelia being senior women I knew I didn’t have to worry about keeping up with them on the final hill. Going over the finish line I was pretty stoked I put everything on the line and it all worked out. It was great to have my Black Magic team mates Amanda Jamieson and Ione Johnson on the podium as well.”