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A rower and an ironman athlete upstaged the cyclists in time trials on the opening day of the national road championships in Cambridge.
The 2018 champion, Hamish Bond, reclaimed the elite male title while Auckland triathlete Teresa Adam won the elite women’s jersey in the time trials on the first day of the championships.
All four time trial category winners from last year were sidelined due to injury or illness.
Bond returned to rowing last year after a three-year focus on cycling that included a competitive performance in the time trial at last year’s world championships.
Bennett, from Nelson, took the battle to the bigger riders, up by nearly 5sec on Bond at 5km of the 40km journey, but only 0.4sec ahead at 29km.
However, Bond beefed up the challenge and finished the stronger, clocking 46min 52.95sec, 15sec clear of Bennett. South Canterbury’s Dylan Kennett, a noted track and road rider, was third.
"I’m clocking about 93kg as a rower so I would be surprised if there’s anyone heavier in cycling out there today," Bond said.
"I was not punished on this course and I had a bigger frame. I had to push out a lot more watts to go the same speed as George. I was 93kg generally of muscle and he is 58kg of whippet.
"I thought a couple of months ago, when I was a bit injured and was on an exercise bike, that I might consider entering and decided a month ago to give it a go."
Adam, who has chalked up three wins in just five Ironman starts, showed her class in the elite women’s time trial over 20km. She was too strong and posted the fastest time of 26min 32.65sec, 36.5sec ahead of second-placed Georgia Perry and 1min 17sec clear of Bronwyn MacGregor.
The world’s fastest junior individual pursuit rider on the track, Finn Fisher-Black, showed his prowess to dominate the under-23 men’s time trial, winning in 48min 4.65sec.
Fisher-Black, who will ride for Jumbo-Visma’s development team this year, finished more than a minute clear of Ethan Batt and Logan Currie. His time was the third-fastest overall.
The women’s under-23 battle was a close battle between two Otago riders. World Tour professional Ella Harris and 2017 winner Mikayla Harvey were locked together at 10km but the strength of Harris proved decisive on the closing kilometres.
Harris clocked 27min 27.97sec, the third-fastest overall, to win by 16sec from Harvey. Niamh Fisher-Black was third.
"I am not very experienced in these time trials so I just got my speed off my Garmin and rode as hard as I could and I was pleased.
"It is a nice way to start the season," Harris said.