A flurry of road race medals for New Zealand capped a successful weekend of racing at the Oceania Road Championships in Railton with three golds leading the way. Finn Fisher-Black doubled up from his time trial win, while Sharlotte Lucas and Ella Wyllie all claimed Oceania titles.
Lucas defends her Oceania crown
The women’s race, fought out over 105km, took in a cautious opening three of four laps, with the action saved for the final lap. The course was one with a bit of everything, with a decent climb kicking the lap off before the fast downhill and then gradual rolling section brought the lap to an end. It took until the final lap for the decisive move to go clear, with a group of 9 riders forming including Sharlotte Lucas (New Zealand), Sarah Gigante (Australia), Jemma Eastwood (Australia), Justine Barrow (Australia), Kirsty McCallum (New Zealand), Alicia Evans (New Zealand), Nicole Frain (Australia), Georgia Christie (New Zealand) and Alana Forster (Australia) with the group trading attacks on the final lap. Sensing the opportunity to snare the title every move was quickly chased down leaving the group together as they hit the final kilometre.
As they rounded the final corner with 200 metres to go Australian Champion Gigante hit out first opening her sprint and gapping the field. The uphill drag for the line proved too much for the young Australian with Lucas pipping her on the line for the title. Gigante would hold on for second across the line to add the under 23 title to her rapidly growing palmares. Justine Barrow was the second elite across the line with Kirsty McCallum taking bronze for New Zealand. In the U23 race Gigante’s win saw Jemma Eastwood and Georgia Christie take second and third; Christie adding to her time trial medal the day before.
Afterwards Lucas reflected on her successful defence of her title. “It is actually quite a relief,” Lucas said.
“I had a terrible last couple of days with my time trial bike. It broke on the plane and I basically had to stick it back together and had mechanical problems yesterday, so I was disappointed with that. To come out today and back up from last year has been awesome.
“I felt really marked obviously, I am wearing pro kit and you are always sort of marked and obviously as the defending champion it was quite a mission. I had a couple of goes to get away, but we were reeled back in and I knew obviously on that last lap what I needed to do to win that sprint finish.
“It is quite a technical one coming around that corner, but it is quite uphill, so I was happy to take out the win.
“Sarah [Gigante] put a decent gap on me actually and I was like oh I’m going to have to make this gap up, but I managed to do it and flew past her on the line.”
Fisher-Black time trials to a double gold
After triumphing in the time trial the day before Finn Fisher-Black inevitably went into the Junior Men’s road race as one to watch but that didn’t stop him ultimately soloing away to a famous win and a second Oceania title in two days.
A three rider break formed on the opening lap consisting of Lachlan Robertson (New Zealand), Ari Scott (New Zealand) and Kiaan Watts (New Zealand) holding a two minute and forty second advantage as they crossed the finish line for the first of four times. As the pace increased on the second lap Robertson fell off the pace as Laurence Pithie (New Zealand), Xander White (New Zealand) and Guy Yarrell (New Zealand) bridged across with the now five rider group maintaining an advantage of around a minute over the next lap and a half.
Heading in to the final lap Watts hit out solo before being caught with 20 kilometres to go setting off a flurry of attacks. A four rider move lead by Fisher-Black, Dylan Hopkins (Australia), Sebastian Barrett (Australia) and Josh Lane (New Zealand) emerged with 15 kilometres to go and proved to be the decisive move of the day. Initially working well together the quartet built a near 30 second advantage before Fisher-Black attacked as he saw the five kilometres to go sign and once in time trial mode, he was unstoppable finishing 24 seconds clear of Barrett who won the sprint for second ahead of Josh Lane.
Ella Wyllie leads Kiwi 1-2 in junior women’s race
There was further joy for New Zealand to come as Ella Wyllie led a New Zealand 1-2 in the junior women’s road race. The 79km course saw a breakaway group of six riders in contention for the win until Wyllie made her move. The group was well represented by New Zealand with Hannah Bartram and Henrietta Christie joining Wyllie along with Neve Bradbury, Catelyn Turner and Francesca Sewell from Australia.
In the sprint for the line it was Ella Wyllie who had the pace to get the better of Bartram by a solitary second, with Neve Bradbury picking up the bronze. Henrietta Christie finished 6th ahead of Kiwi compatriots Jorga Swain, Stella Nightingale, Lee Boon and Lucy Thomson.
In the elite men’s race Jason Christie picked up a silver medal behind a dominant Benjamin Dyball from Australia. The Team Sapura Cycling rider soloed to the win by an impressive 4.05mins, with Jason Christie joining Chris Harper and Drew Morey in a chase trio that contested silver. Christie had the pace to best Harper and Morey with Logan Griffin completing the top 5.