Roulston collects third road race crown

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 15:33 13/01/2013
Hayden Roulston
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ
HAYDEN ROULSTON: The 32-year-old Cantabrian, left, celebrates winning his third national road race title. George Bennetts, second, right.

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Hayden Roulston has won his third national road race title in Christchurch today.

One of Canterbury's favourite sons, Roulston today added the 2013 title to his 2006 and 2011 victories.

Roulston started the last 12-kilometre lap - one of only two flat laps in the 183.7km race - a whopping 45.7 seconds behind Nelson's George Bennett but caught the 22-year-old with two kilometres left of the 4 1/2 hour race.

Roulston, 32, crossed the line only inches ahead of his Radioshack teammate Bennett, but there was no sprint as Roultston had clearly pulled rank having just caught the former mountainbiker.

Kiwi Velo's James Oram finished third and took the under-23 title, which meant sentimental favourite Julian Dean ended his career on the podium in third.

Dean went out with a bang and until the last lap of the race was in contention despite the course, including its 10 4km trips up the steep Dyers Pass Road hill, not suiting the 37-year-old.

Roulston said the quality of the field, which included six other UCI riders, made the victory even sweeter.

"It means a lot to me," he said.

"The strength of the field was really good this year, and every one came here and raced hard."

Bennett, a gun climber, paid the price for the change in circuit this year. The last three races have included 11 trips up Dyers Pass Road, but race organisers decided this year to make the final lap a flat one.

An exhausted Bennett said that made all the difference.

"It was just too hard for a rider like me to keep them away on the flat, I had to do 21km by myself and I couldn't quite do it," he said.

"It's a bit disappointing to not win it, but I'm pretty happy really, pretty happy with second and if someone had to catch me, I'm glad it was Rolly."

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