Spills then thrill for Shane Archbold
Timaru's Shane Archbold survived two spills and the loss of plenty of skin to break a seven-year hoodoo and win the Festival of Cycling's criterium in Christchurch yesterday.
The 23-year-old Olympian finished third in the event in 2005 as a 16-year-old novice, but despite improving through the years and becoming one of the country's top riders, the enigmatic South Cantabrian hadn't featured since.
Yesterday, the battered and bruised Archbold outsprinted defending champion Tom Scully, Paul Odlin, Mike Northey, Hamish Schreurs and Nick Lovegrove to the title on the technical 900-metre University of Canterbury circuit.
After two crashes earlier in the race, both involving Dillon Bennett, Archbold opted to get to the front and keep out of trouble.
Criterium rules allow riders a two-lap break if they crash or have mechanical failures before rejoining the field where they were before the incident.
Archbold had two mini-breaks in the 45-minute race. Bennett crashed once and Archbold rode into him then off the circuit. The second time it was Archbold who went down, losing lycra and skin before Bennett rode into him.
"I said to [Tom] Scully, ‘the easiest thing is to be in the break and stay out of trouble'," Archbold said.
"When you're in the break, it's so much easier because you've got guys working together, not working against each other. In the pack you've got guys all around you doing their own thing and it can get a bit messy, as you saw."
Archbold and a large number of the men's field had "a very, very late night" at Marc Ryan's stag do on Saturday night, but the champion showed no signs of it.
He powered to the line looking fresher than the rest, having earlier played a major role in bridging the gap with the initial breakaway by Odlin, Northey and Saturday's 90km Waipara Challenge winner, Englishman Matt Cronshaw.
"I raced the Tour of Southland, but have done bugger all training since then and haven't felt very good. [Saturday] I started to feel good."
Despite claiming to be shattered at the finish line having "just went as hard as I could the whole time", Archbold still had his sense of humour. "I was just lucky I went straight to bed [Saturday night] and got a good 14 hours sleep," he told the crowd.
Odlin didn't have the sprint to match Archbold at the end and help his disbanding Subway team end on a high.
"It's disappointing to miss the final win for Subway," he said.
"We have a policy in the team - first is first and second isn't anywhere."
The women's criterium was won by Alexandra's Sophie Williamson, who atoned for a sprint loss in the women's Waipara Challenge on Saturday.
Williamson kept the pace on throughout the 35min criterium and eventually won by five lengths from 2011 winner Jeannie Kuhajek.
Kaiapoi's Reta Trotman won the road race on Saturday in a tight sprint finish over Williamson and Emma Crum (Whangaparaoa). Christchurch's Haley Mercer was fourth.