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Elite and U19 Oceania Road Cycling Championships, Queensland, Australia.

by | Mar 4, 2014

Three Bike Manawatu riders were selected by BikeNZ to compete at the Oceania Cycling Championships; George Roberts, Alex West, and me, Lizzie Stannard.

We flew out of Palmerston North Airport on the 19th February with two bike boxes and a suitcase each bound for Toowoomba in South East Queensland.

Both the individual time-trial and the road race were centered around Toowoomba, a large city situated on top of the Great Dividing Range about 2 hours drive west of Brisbane.

The time-trial was held in an Australian version of Ashhurst called Nobby, only much smaller and dirtier. The course was made up of a series of rolling hills and false flats, of which the U19 women completed 13 km and the U19 men 25 km.

The day of the time trial dawned with a slight breeze, and a classic Australian summers day (ie: hot), which did not bode well for our team issue long-sleeved skin suits. The girls started off first, and after minor stresses that included getting our helmets checked for the Australian Standards sticker, everyone was off. Only 10 girls started, of which three were New Zealanders. The race was won by Alexandra Manly (South Australia) (also won bronze at the World TT Champs last year) and the two New Zealand girls were 2nd (Madison Farrant) and 3rd (Amanda Jamieson), and I rolled home in 7th. The boys performed well, but were not up to the high standard the girls had set earlier in the day. Alex and George were both slightly sick to begin with, and Alex managed to top that off by riding into a ditch in the first 5 km (don’t ask). He ended up 34th and George 31st out of 37 starters.

The next day was the road race for both the elite and U19 women, held in a country town called Goombungee about an hour in the other direction to Nobby. The course was laps of a loop going through and around it. It wasn’t particularly hilly, but consisted of narrow backroads that gently climbed and descended as the road wound its way through kangaroo country. The last third of the course got hillier as it passed through the nominated feed zone in a rural settlement named Haden.

The girls had a rather small start list, but still with 13 of Australia and New Zealand’s best lining up. The first two thirds of lap one (the U19 women completed two laps for a total distance of 71 km) were cruisy with only minor breaks and attacks occurring. Once the bunch reached the hill leading into Haden an attack by one of the Aussie girls split the bunch dramatically, and a group of 5 got away. This group consisted of three Australians, myself and Amanda from the Hawkes Bay. We worked together relatively well into the crosswind (nasty) and put plenty of time into the chasing group. Amanda dropped from the break just before the hill into Haden, and then I attacked the Australians going over the top and into the little town. However, I was caught after about a kilometre and the group stayed together until the last two km where I attacked again on a slight rise leading into Goombungee and the finish. This time I managed to put time into the others and held onto my lead to finish with gold. The other New Zealanders finished in the bunch about 10 minutes down to round off a solid team effort, in time to make it to the medal presentation.

The boys started on the Sunday, and with a much larger field of 55. The pressure was on before the commissare even said go (all the NZ boys didn’t sign in and had to go back round after initially lining up to start). As they came through the start/finish chute on lap one the field was already broken up, with boys pulling out and minor breaks off the front. Lap two saw a strong bunch of Aussie boys away, who would end up staying in front, and the field stretched right out. George ended up pulling out (he started the day pretty unwell) but Alex pushed on to finish 24th. All the New Zealand boys (of which the best placed was 8th) did extremely well, competing in a field of boys that included guys who were already getting paid to ride. Out of the 55 starters only 28 completed the race of 106.5 km.

For me the trip was a great experience, my first at international-level racing, and to come home as U19 Oceania champion was the icing on the cake.

A very big thank you to Bike Manawatu for supporting the trip and also to Wayne Girdlestone and Tracey Herbert for looking after us.

Next stop World Champs in Spain (hopefully!)

Lizzie.

PS. Thank you to my parents for getting me over there too 😉