Cooper, Buchanan once again reign supreme atop the New Zealand elite road championships

Cooper, Buchanan top New Zealand elite road nationals

08/01/2017 at 06:14

Joe Cooper and Rushlee Buchanan once again prove best in class winning the men's and women's national elite road championships...

Reigning two-time Australian National Road Series champion Joe Cooper (IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness) won his second New Zealand road race championship in three years in the North Island coastal township of Napier on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Wellington native, who also won the road race title in 2015 and the national individual time trial crown in 2013, proved too strong over the 169km course for defending champion and former Avanti teammate Jason Christi (+0:14), One Pro Cycling’s Dion Smith and former Drapac rider Brad Evans (+0:18), who all finished second, third and fourth respectively.

“Today was about keeping calm and waiting for the right move. I didn’t have any teammates so I was forced to save energy and then unload at a certain point and hope that it stuck,” said Cooper.

“You had to give respect for the WorldTour and Pro Continental guys and so if you are able to hang around their wheels long enough you land in the right moves and get an easy sit in the peloton which was a key to the strategy today.

“I knew they were riding for a bunch kick and I can’t sprint my way out of a wet paper bag so I needed to be solo,” he continued. “I had to roll the dice. There’s no way I wanted to wait for the bunch kick and come 10th.”

Another Avanti alumnus Regan Gough, 20, who finished fifth overall, had to recover from a late puncture to outsprint Auckland’s James Fouche at the line for under-23 (U23) honours.

Gough, a member of the world champion winning team pursuit in 2015 and the Rio Olympics, kicked off his tenure with the European-based UCI Continental road team An Post-Chain Reaction with a victory in the U23 time trial on Friday.

Hamilton native Rushlee Buchanan makes history with her fourth New Zealand road race title. Photo: John Cowpland

Hamilton native Rushlee Buchanan makes history with her fourth New Zealand road race title. Photo: John CowplandEurosport

Buchanan wins historic fourth road title

Olympian Rushlee Buchanan (UnitedHealthcare) created history a day earlier when she became the first woman to win the national elite road championship four times.

Buchanan outsprinted fellow Rio Olympic track rider Georgia Williams and triathlete-turned-cyclist Kate McIlroy (+0:04) following 112km in an exciting sprint finish along the Napier foreshore.

The United Healthcare rider successfully defended the title she won last year in Napier after wins in 2010 and 2014 to move one championship clear of three-time winners Cath Cheatley and Melissa Holt.

“I knew I wasn’t the best climber out there and had to save my energy when I could and dig very, very deep when Kate and Georgia were putting the hammer down,” said Buchanan. “I backed myself for the sprint finish. I knew I had the better jump and that played into my hands.

“It has not sunk in yet but to win the 2917 national championship is awesome. Number four is pretty amazing to put myself in the history books. For me I just want to represent the jersey well on the international stage and do the New Zealand proud the whole year.”

Hawkes Bay rider Amanda Jamieson managed to pip long-time leader Michaela Drummond (Manawatu/Mike Greer Homes) to claim the first women’s under-23 road championship title.