Shelley Evans takes Tour of NZ in style

BY PETER MARTINEZ
Last updated 19:57 28/02/2010

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American Shelley Evans won the Tour of New Zealand women's cycling race in style by taking out today's sixth and final stage, a criterium in the streets of Wellington.

It was a fourth stage win of the tour for the United States team rider, who again waited until the last few hundred metres before unleashing her power to cross the line first.

That tactic saw her win stages one, two and five in tight bunch finishes, setting up the first road win of her career.

Today's criterium was run under a pall of sadness following last night's massive earthquake in Chile, the homeland of tour director Jorge Sandoval.

His home town of Tome, a fishing village, is near Chile's second largest city Concepcion, which was close to the epicentre of the 8.8 magnitude quake.

Sandoval had a sleepless night vainly trying to contact family, particularly his elderly parents, relatives and friends.

Evans dedicated her win to the people of Chile.

Second in the criterium, run over an hour plus three laps on an 850m circuit in central Wellington, was Australian Institute of Sport rider Kirsty Broun, with New Zealand's Joanne Kiesanowski third.

Evans won the tour with a total time of 12 hours, 33 minutes. Second was United States teammate Amber Neben at 16 seconds, with Australian Institute of Sports rider Tiffany Cromwell third at 35sec.

Broun also won the sprints competition, Cromwell the under-23 category, and the queen of the mountains title went to Australian Ruth Corset, riding for the South African Nashua team.

Evans took back the tour leader's yellow jersey from teammate Neben after winning yesterday's fifth stage from Palmerston North to Masterton and could easily have coasted to the overall win by sitting in the pack today.

Broun won the first three sprints of the criterium to take an unbeatable lead in the sprints category but Evans was an ever present figure among the frontrunners.

Kiesanowski attacked in the final five minutes but was caught at the final bend before the finish line and Evans and Broun came over the top of her.

Evans said all the credit for her individual victory went to her teammates.

"My team did everything to win that race," she said.

"We controlled it from the beginning and everything was executed perfectly."

Evans now heads to Copenhagen or next month's world track championships confident of her form for her specialities, the points and scratch races.

After that she links up with her American professional road racing team, Peanut Butter and Company 2012, a new team run by 2008 Olympics time trial gold medallist Kristin Armstrong.

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- NZPA

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