It was a day of domination from Cycling New Zealand in both the elite men’s and elite women’s races at the Thermal Chemistry Hamilton Open, round 2 of the Dynamo Events Team Championship. Regan Gough took the win in the men’s race while Rushlee Buchanan ruled the women’s event.
63 riders from 13 different teams took to the start line in Tamahere School for the 115km elite men’s race. Among the favourites for the win were multiple national road race champions Hayden Roulston and Gordon McCauley, round 1 winner Frank Sutton and a number of stand out riders from the recent SBS Tour of Southland including Alex Frame and Roman van Uden.
Going into the race there were several question marks over how the Cycling New Zealand team would fare, despite their obvious prowess. “Lining up today was a bit of an unknown,” Regan admitted later. “We have had a pretty heavy training load on the track this last week, so there was a bit of uncertainty heading into the race on how we would pull through from the week. We didn’t really have a plan at the beginning, just see how the race developed and make a decision from there.”
The race was defined by a breakaway that took off the road featuring five riders. Regan Gough told RoadCycling afterwards, “None of us [from Cycling New Zealand] were in it so I made myself responsible for getting over too it. From there, there was no letting up. The initial break of 7-8 riders was dwindled down to three – Dan Molyneux, Sam Phipps and myself. Two extremely strong guys who were 110% committed to riding all day.”
The trio stayed away for a good chunk of the race until with 40km to go Regan found himself out on his own alone with a lot of riding still to tackle. “I found myself regrettably solo with 40km or so to go into a brutal head wind,” Regan said. But the slightly uncomfortable situation he found himself in was not to last as riders behind him were rallying to catch up. “[I waited] for two rapid chasers Mike Torckler and Frank Sutton. Alex Frame riding over solo took the pressure of me in the last 10k, which left it up to Mike to tow it to the line.”
Gough and Torckler eventually disposed of Alex Frame and Sutton and proceeded to fight it out in the sprint. Regan’s track legs made convincing work in the finish though and he went on to take the second round of the Team Championship. Torckler finished second and from there it was a 1 minute gap back to Alex Frame and Frank Sutton. Nick Kergozou – Cycling New Zealand’s third rider in the top 5 – just edged out Roman van Uden for fifth, with Cameron Karwowski, Joshua Kuysten, Tom Carter and Alex Heaney rounding out the top 10.
The second round of the Team Championship falls at a crucial time for Regan, Cam, Nick and the boys in black as they get ready for the second round of the UCI Track World Cup; with the team announcement expected this week. “Things are looking good on the boards. We had a camp before the Tour of Southland, and have been on the boards since Monday,” Regan said. “Everyone has pulled through from the Tour in pretty good nick, so we have been putting down some good work from Monday.”
2015 sees Regan close out his first year at Avanti Racing, and he’s been delighted with the way they have accommodated him and his commitments to the boards. “It’s been good with Avanti Racing, they have been really lenient and understanding with my track commitments which has made the whole process a lot easier,” Regan said. “I was part of their Tour of China team, and the Tour of Southland coming away with valuable experiences and knowledge.”
Next up for Regan is focus on the World Cup season before he knuckles down for a good performance at the National Elite Road Championships in Napier. There Regan will be hoping his local knowledge – it is his hometown – will help propel him to a great result. Beyond there his focus though will be very much on the track with the Nationals in Cambridge gearing things up for the Rio Olympics next year. We asked Regan where his focus would lie in the Olympic pool of potential events. “For now I will be team pursuit orientated going into Olympic year,” was his reply.
In the elite women’s race it was a Cycling New Zealand 1-2-3 that rose to the occasion. The 28 strong field were dominated by the girls in black, with a stand out performance being produced by recently crowned Crit Nationals champion for the second year running Rushlee Buchanan. Buchanan rode away from the field to cross the line with more than 2 minutes in hand on her teammate Georgia Williams. Behind them a group of more than a dozen riders hit the finish together, with the sprint being taken out by last round’s winner Jaime Nielsen. Helen Ruth Baillie-Strong just missed the podium in fourth ahead of Amanda Jamieson and Hannah van Kampen. Baillie-Strong’s Bikelab teammates Hannah Gumbley, Grace Anderson and Renee Wootton finished in the top 10, with Natalie Kerwin of Ramblers Cycling also there.