Te Awamutu rider wins gruelling race
A Te Awamutu Olympic cyclist fought off stiff competition at the Taupo Cycle Challenge to win the women's elite race by half a tyre length.
More than 8000 competitors took to the course on Saturday to compete in the annual cycle challenge, but some riders had a rougher ride than may have expected.
A woman who fractured her leg during the challenge and had to be flown to hospital on Saturday was one of about 90 competitors who required medical treatment.
St John Taupo area manager Graeme Harvey said the dozens of cycle race casualties kept his team hard at work.
Te Awamutu pro rider Rushlee Buchanan, who won the women's elite race just ahead of Auckland's Emily Collins, was beaming after the race.
It was the 24-year-old woman's first racing weekend since travelling with the New Zealand women's team pursuit team to the Olympics.
"So that was pretty good to come away with a win."
The international rider, who has been professional for the past six years, now stays in the country until February before joining her American-based team Tisco.
She said the Taupo race was one of a few that had specialised women's races.
Both men's and women's teams raced so fast they both broke course records, she said.
Auckland's Mike Northey beat out more than 8000 other competitors to win the men's elite race.
Fortunately, neither of the winners were between the 85 and 90 treated by St John for various injuries and medical conditions.
Mr Harvey said about 50 were treated at the medical clinic at the finish line and close to 39 were attended to on the course.
Of those, about 30 were taken to hospital or the on-site clinic for further assessment. There was also a string of minor to moderate wrist and collarbone injuries, grazes and cuts from falls.
The most serious case was a woman who crashed and fractured her leg at the southern end of Lake Taupo.
"She wasn't involved in a big pile-up or anything like that. It was just one of those unfortunate things, it was just a single event and unfortunately she sustained a nasty fracture to her leg."
The Greenlea rescue helicopter transported her to Taupo Hospital for treatment, Mr Harvey said. A few people were taken to hospital with heart problems.
St John bulked up its team for the event with 36 staff, 12 ambulances, a first response motorcycle, a paramedic on a mountainbike and a medical clinic .
Staff were called in from Turangi, Taumarunui, Tokoroa, Hamilton, Napier, and Auckland.
"It always is a steady, busy day for us," Mr Harvey said. "Obviously, due to . . . the kilometres that it covers and the area it covers it's always a logistically challenging day."
However, the number of patients was down on last year and Mr Harvey said the organisers deserved a "pat on the back" for running a successful event.