Callum Gordon absolutely decimated the field to take line honours ahead of U23 and senior riders alike, photo Eugene Bonthuys

Callum Gordon (Gisborne Cycling Club) dominated the opposition to win the under 23 road race at the Vittoria Club Road National Championships in Alexandra.  He took the win after a long solo break, with Anton O’Connell (Cycling Southland) taking second, with Alex Heaney (Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club) in third.

With a tough 140 kilometres ahead of them, the under 23 and senior men set off together in freezing temperatures. The seven laps of the 20 kilometre course promised to provide plenty of opportunities for those riders strong or brave enough to set off on their own, and with a mix of two categories in the race, keeping track of who was up the road was vital.

Two senior riders, Tim Chapman and Nicholas Ross, attacked on the first lap, and established a solid lead. Meanwhile, Gordon was taking his time, having flown in the day before the race and therefore not having had a chance to ride the course before the race.  “I used the first lap to get my eye in and the second lap to get settled. My plan was to push the pace and be in the final selection,” he said.

However, with the two riders up the road, Gordon changed his plan a bit and decided to bridge across to the leaders on the third lap.  “I thought I should have a go early to see how the legs had travelled. I think I went at the right time, there was a break established that I rode across to while at the same time I think the GC guys weren’t keen to go so early on the challenging course,” he said.

Once he had joined up with the two leaders, Gordon worked hard to help build the lead.  However, as Chapman and Ross had been out there since the very start of the race, they were starting to tire.

“With around three laps to go I still found I had solid legs and decided to push on. I had 4.30 over the bunch and with the wind picking up I knew no one would want to commit a full chase with people sitting on,” said Gordon.

Now on his own, with no shelter from the wind and a couple of laps still to go, Gordon had to manage his resources carefully, for even a big gap could still evaporate.  “I was lucky to have two Team Skoda Team mates in the bunch and they helped with the pacing on the pack. I had to be smart with my pacing – I pushed it in the headwinds and up the hills and tried to recover in the tailwind,” he said.

During the latter part of the race, Gordon’s only potential challenge came from senior rider Tim Rush, who had mounted a solo chase of his own, but he was not making inroads into Gordon’s lead.

“The final part was the climb and while I rode it hard, I still had the time to let the win start to sink in. For me, the result shows the form I’m in and what I’m capable of. Club nationals is one I got close to winning two years ago and it was nice to seal it today and even more special to have time to celebrate,” he said.

Gordon had come into the race with high expectations, after a string of solid results, including taking second at Le Race behind Hayden Roulston and a good showing at The REV as well.

“Since then my training has gone from strength to strength and I’m about to head overseas to race,” he said.

The magnitude of Gordon’s effort can best be appreciated when one realises that the next rider to cross the line, Rush, was more than 2:30 behind Gordon, and was not even racing in the same category. The next under 23 rider, O’Connell, finished some 3:20 down on Gordon, with third place finisher Heaney over five minutes back.


Pos. Rider Team Time


Callum Gordon Gisborne Cycling Club 3.43.57


Anton O’Connell Cycling Southland 3.47.16


Alex Heaney Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club 3.49.03


Joshua Haggerty Cycling Southland 3.49.31


Liam Aitcheson Central Otago-Wakatipu 3.49.34


Nick Reddish Hamilton City Cycling Club 3.49.42


Max Jones Pegasus Cycling 3.50.02


Kris Rush Cycling Timaru 3.56.35


John Wansink Cycling Otago 3.57.09


Charles Salmon Pegasus Cycling 3.57.10


Jake Marryatt Pegasus Cycling 3.57.39


Liam Seeley Cycling Otago 4.14.51
Phillip McIlroy-Bisley Whakatane Cycle Club DNF
Josh Van Den Arend Cycling Southland DNF
Nick Bain Counties Manukau Cycling DNF
John Newman-Watt North Harbour Cycling Club DNF


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