World champions, Tokyo Olympic aspirants and a number of leading road cyclists will jostle their way around an inner-city circuit in the Vantage Criterium National Championships in Christchurch on Sunday.
It is the first time the exciting criterium championships has ventured back to Christchurch in over a decade, and will be staged on a 1.1km circuit around Cambridge Terrace, Cashel, Montreal and Gloucester streets in the city CBD.
“We’re grateful for the support of Christchurch City Council in hosting this event and look forward to an exciting event that will add some colour and excitement to the annual Bloom Festival in Christchurch,” said Cycling New Zealand CEO, Jacques Landry.
Over 100 riders will take part, led by three junior track world champions who claimed their rainbow jerseys in Germany recently. Christchurch’s Laurence Pithie teamed with Taupo’s Kiaan Watts to win the Madison title while Pithie also claimed the omnium with Waikato’s Ally Wollaston winning the individual pursuit. The trio swap to their road bikes for the super-fast criterium action, all competing for A Grade Championship honours on Sunday.
There are seven riders competing who will be lining up in in Cambridge in three weeks for the vital UCI Track World Cup which will play an important cog in the wheel that rolls ultimately to the Tokyo Olympics.
Bryony Botha, Wollaston and Michaela Drummond will be looking for success at the criterium as they build-up to the World Cup action, with 22 year old Botha and 21 year old Drummond part of the women’s team pursuit that won the bronze medal at last year’s world championship.
In the men’s race, Waikato’s George Jackson, Watts and Cantabrians Josh Scott and Hugo Jones will all be looking for honours at the weekend as they prepare for the Cambridge World Cup.
Jackson won a junior world team pursuit title in 2018 with another criterium starter, Bailey O’Donnell; while Scott, who won bronze in the same event in 2017, has just returned with Jones from competing in the high-profile London Six-Day carnival.
There will be high hopes for outstanding Christchurch-based rider Sharlotte Lucas, who was third last year, and returned from her first year on the UCI World Tour for US-based TIBCO-SVB.
With last year’s champions Sam Gaze and Rushlee Buchanan not racing this year, the field is wide open with other riders of interest including Paralympic sighted pilot, Nina Wollaston; North Canterbury elite mountain biker Ben Oliver and 2018 Oceania road cycling time trial champion, Jake Marryatt from Christchurch.
Racing begins from 2.30pm with the A Grade Championship races at 4.50pm (women) and 5:40pm (men) and the start-finish line on Cambridge Terrace.