Te Awamutu cyclist Hayden McCormick was crowned national criterium champion in front of 10,000 spectators in Auckland last night.
In a rapid-paced and brutal elite men's race in Takapuna, 18-year-old McCormick outstretched defending champion Mike Northey on the line to claim the New Zealand title.
"I was just trying to set Michael Vink up for the win, but to come away with it myself, I'm stoked, and it really wraps up a good year for me," said McCormick.
"Mike's [Northey] flying at the moment coming off winning the Tour of Southland, but he made a little mistake by looking back at the last turn which gave me the chance to get ahead and beat him to the line.
"I don't really have a sprint to be honest. The only time I'm good at sprinting is at the end of a road race, so this was a bit of a strength sprint rather than a pure speed sprint."
Fewer than half of the 41 riders who started the race managed to finish in the main bunch after constant attacks split the field early in the 40min event.
"You can always go that bit faster when you're chasing someone so sitting behind a few of the breaks for a while gave me a good carrot to chase," said McCormick, who won ahead of Northey (Auckland) in second and Olympian Aaron Gate (Auckland) in third.
In the elite women's race, which was reduced to just 15 minutes after a massive crash in the open entry category, 19-year-old Georgia Williams, from Auckland, rode clear from a breakaway group of four to claim the national title.
"This is awesome, I'm so surprised. I definitely wanted to get into a break so that race just worked out perfectly," she said. "I knew I had good form but without knowing how the rest of the girls were going, it was hard to predict how I'd go. I just can't believe it, really."
Williams gapped the field of 20 riders early on the piece, along with defending champion Pip Sutton (Waikato-BOP) and US-based professionals Emily Collins (Auckland) and Kate Chilcott (Auckland).
In her first year as an elite rider, Williams then pushed away from her idols on the last lap of the time-reduced race to roll home three seconds ahead of Collins in second and Sutton in third.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Can the Chiefs make it three in a row in 2014?Related story: (See story)