One of the riders who will not be lining up at this year’s Criterium National Championships in Takapuna is defending women’s champion Rushlee Buchanan.  Together with Mike Northey, the two leave the elite men’s and women’s titles vacant with no challenge from defending champions in either discipline.  We took the chance to chat with her.

It’s been a funny year for our national criterium, time trial and road race champion.  Despite being the reigning champion in all three disciplines, Buchanan has barely raced in either national champion’s jersey as this year has been all about the Rio Olympic track programme and her cementing and then executing her role in the women’s team pursuit.

But next year sees Rushlee eager to return to her road duties with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, the team with which she has recently signed a new one year deal.  Interestingly it will be a much changed team with a number of riders not on the roster for 2017 including Coryn Rivera and world time trial champion Linda Villumsen.  “It’s always interesting the year after the Olympics, a lot of people change focus and move on, so we’ve only got three people remaining from this year!” Rushlee told RoadCycling.

Despite there being only three remaining riders, with all the rest being imports from other teams, Rushlee is confident in the strength UnitedHealthcare will have.  “We’ve got such a good core group, while we might not have a superstar like Coryn, I think that will mean we race really well as a team,” Rushlee told us.  “We’re going to have to be aggressive and be tactical which is what I love about this team and racing over here.  You have to race every race differently and the squad we have next year is a bit of a mixture.”

Buchanan will be back in New Zealand in time to race the Elite Road National Championships, where she will have the opportunity to defend her road race and time trial titles won in Napier this January.

Check out some more of our interview with Rushlee in the clip above.

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