The development of star track cyclist Jesse Sergent into a world class road rider was honoured at the BikeNZ Road and Track Cyclist of the Year Awards in Christchurch last night.
The 23 year old won the honour of Male Road Rider of the Year in a special function. He is one of six riders to receive awards. They included world championship medallist Linda Villumsen awarded female road rider of the year, world championship silver medallists Shane Archbold and Alison Shanks won the male and female track riders of the year, North Harbour’s James Oram is the best emerging talent while veteran Julian Dean was voted the People’s Choice Award.
Sergent, a silver medallist at the world track championships, enjoyed a remarkable maiden season for the high profile Radioshack team on road cycling’s Pro World Tour in 2011. While the team’s supremo Johan Bruyneel did not over-burden the Feilding rider in his first year, Sergent showed his potential with three prologue victories at the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, the Eneco Tour and Tour du Poitiou Charentes. He went on to claim the overall honours in the Belgium and French stage races.
Villumsen again proved her world class abilities over the time trial with a silver medal at the world championships in her native Denmark this year.
Villumsen, who rode for the Dutch AA Drink professional team in 2011, hit the lead in the competition as the eighth to last rider off on the technical two lap 27.8km time trial, clocking 37:29.11. Her time lasted until the penultimate ride from 2004 world champion Judith Arndt (Germany) who pipped the kiwi for the title with defending champion Emma Pooley (Great Britain) third.
She is the only BikeNZ rider to win two medals in elite competition at a world road championship following her bronze at Melbourne last year. She also won bronze in 2009 in Danish colours.
Archbold was one of the most improved riders on the world track scene last year, culminating with a silver medal in the new Olympic track discipline of the omnium. This is a six-discipline event held over two days comprising flying lap sprint, individual pursuit, 1000m time trial, points race, scratch race and elimination race.
The 22 year old completed the World Cup season as the top ranked Omnium rider.
Shanks again enjoyed an outstanding season, highlighted with a silver medal in the world track championships. She led for all but the final 120m, pipped by world record holder Sarah hammer (USA) by 29/100th of a second for her second rainbow jersey.
This followed a leading role by Shanks in guiding the women’s team to a bronze medal in the team pursuit, beating Australia in the ride-off.
Last month Shanks broke the New Zealand residents’ record with a 3:28.475 effort to win the gold medal at the Oceania Championships in Invercargill, more than a second off her previous best. And she was a key part of the team pursuit that clocked the fastest time in the world at sea-level of 3:19.759 at the Oceanias.
Oram, the former Westlake Boys High School student, was part of a record-setting day at the world road championships. The 18 year old won a silver media in the Under-19 time trial, on the same day as Villumsen’s silver – the first time BikeNZ has won two medals on the same day at a world road championship.
Oram clocked 35:11.79 for the 27.8km course in Copenhagen to set the standard but had to wait for nearly two hours for the rest of the 55-strong field to ride, finally pipped by local Danish rider Mads Wurtz Schmidt for the gold medal by just four seconds.
He also performed consistently throughout the year winning the Tour de l’Abititi, a Nations Cup event in Canada, and the domestic Calder Stewart Junior National Points Series.
New Zealand road cycling veteran Julian Dean was honoured with the RaboDirect People’s Choice Award title. Dean is respected for his humility, and determination while achieving to the highest level.
Dean completed a brilliant year, overcoming two serious crashes earlier in the season to play a role in the stage win by Garmin Cervelo in the team time trial in the Tour de France. In his seventh Tours de France, Dean became the first New Zealander to stand on the podium in Paris with Garmin Cervelo winning the leading team award.
The BikeNZ Track and Road Awards are:
Male Road Rider of the Year: Jesse Sergent.
Female Road Rider of the Year: Linda Villumsen.
Male Track Rider of the Year: Shane Archbold.
Female Track Rider of the Year: Alison Shanks.
Emerging Talent: James Oram.
RaboDirect People’s Choice: Julian Dean.