West Coast North Island's Catherine Cheatley is
congratulated by her husband Dayle after winning the
women's road race at the RaboDirect Elite National Road
Championships, Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, January
Wanganui cyclist Cath Cheatley justified her pre-race
favouritism with some bold tactics that clinched her third New
Zealand road race championship title in Christchurch today.
The United States-based pro-race rider made her charge at the
halfway stage of the eight-lap 123km event on the
Cashmere/Hoon Hay course and won in a time of three hours 38
minutes 19 seconds.
National series champion Serena Sheridan of Hawke's Bay
pipped defending champion Rushlee Buchanan of Te Awamutu in a
sprint finish to claim second, 1min 13sec adrift of Cheatley.
A swirling easterly wind made conditions testing for the
field, especially on the seven ascents of the gruelling Dyers
Pass Rd, making Cheatley's solo ride even more impressive.
"Sometimes I ask myself why I do this but if I'm finding it
hard so is everyone else," Cheatley said.
The presence of her husband and father inspired the
27-year-old and with not a lot happening in the first part of
the race she made a break early "and gritted my teeth and put
it all out there".
Cheatley said she had felt terrible at first but with hill
climbs her strength she had gradually got into the groove and
began to feel more comfortable. She decided to make her break
early because there wasn't a lot happening at the back of the
peloton. She said she is excited to be taking the national
jersey to the US this year and will wear it "with pride".
Sheridan, who was "stoked" with second place, said she and
Buchanan had worked hard over several laps to rein in
"But Cath's a real powerhouse. She was incredible today --
no-one can touch her at the moment."
Buchanan, 22, said it had been a tough race and she believed
she had given her all to clinch third place.
Another fancied rider, Kaytee Boyd, 32, part of the strong
Waikato Bay of Plenty contingent was fourth, 3min behind
Cheatley while new national time trial champion Sonia Waddell
Commonwealth Games silver medalist Jo Kiesanowski of
Canterbury withdrew from the event last night because she
believed it would be too strenuous when she is joining the
New Zealand track team in camp tomorrow to prepare for this
month's Beijing leg of the World Cup series.
The championships conclude tomorrow with the men's race on
the same course, with 12 laps over 187km.