Fouche goes solo to win title

James Fouche celebrates winning overall honours in the national men’s road cycling race in Napier...
James Fouche celebrates winning overall honours in the national men’s road cycling race in Napier yesterday. Photo: John Cowpland
Twenty-year-old professional James Fouche showed a glimpse of his outstanding potential when he cleared out  to claim the overall honours in the men’s road race at the elite and under-23 road national championships in Napier yesterday.

Fouche was aggressive from the start and made his big break on the infamous Napier Hill climb with two and a-half laps of the city circuit remaining.

From there he soloed to the overall honours in 4hr 1min 2sec for the 166km race.

He defended his men’s under-23 crown that he won last year, and with it the New Zealand Cyclist Corps Memorial Trophy, after also claiming the under-23 time trial on Friday.Fouche’s plan was always to attack early.

"I thought the key for me was to get an early break because I am not one of the best on the climbs," Fouche said.

"It worked out really well, although I was sceptical to go with three laps left but I just went with it.

"I thought it would be a tester and I was surprised to open up the lead. I was not sure I could hold it.

"I’ve been doing quite a bit of training on the hills so I guess it paid off today and the race played into my hands."

World Tour rider Tom Scully, who had been a key driver of the early break that proved so decisive, claimed the elite title, after the chasers fell three minutes behind the winner.

"James was very impressive and it shows good signs for the future," Scully said.

"It was incredible when James went on the climb and put the sword in. It was too much for me. He is an impressive, strong young rider."

Scully was a minute ahead of fellow World Tour rider and time trial winner Patrick Bevin and his Waikato teammate Hayden McCormick was third in the sprint, ahead of world-ranked top-50 professional George Bennett.

Fouche led the under-23 podium ahead of Otago’s Kees Duyvesteyn, who finished second overall, and Manawatu’s Joel Yates, riding for Team Skoda Fruzio.

Paul Wright won the King of the Mountain and Alex West the sprint jersey.

The future for women’s cycling in New Zealand seems in excellent hands after under-23 riders dominated the women’s road race on Saturday.

Highly regarded Marlborough rider Georgia Christie (nee Catterick) went solo as the race returned to the city for five laps of the city circuit and was never caught.

Christie crossed the line in 3hr 13min 34sec for the 109km journey, finishing 12 seconds clear of the chasers. Under-23 riders claimed the first four placings, Deborah Paine (Waikato Bay of Plenty) and Michaela Drummond (West Coast North Island) completing the podium.

"I can’t believe it. I am overwhelmed," Christie said.

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