World-class riders among field in criterium national championships

Aaron Gates and Campbell Stewart. Photo: Getty Images
Aaron Gates and Campbell Stewart. Photo: Getty Images
Several world champions will be riding the streets of Christchurch as many of New Zealand’s best cyclists descend on the city this weekend.

Riders with 10 world championship rainbow jerseys between them will compete in the criterium national championships.

The event will be held on a 1km circuit alongside the Avon River on Sunday.

Corbin Strong, Campbell Stewart and Aaron Gate, all elite track world champions, will be part of the field.

The trio are all in the New Zealand men’s track squad and showed great form in last week’s Tour of Southland, all winning stages and Gate claiming his second overall victory on the Tour.

Meanwhile, seven riders who have won junior track world championships will also compete.

That includes Laurence Pithie and Ally Wollaston, who will defend their respective elite titles in the criterium on Sunday.

Pithie, still just 18, will be again looking for plenty of hometown support.

"It is going to be a really high quality and super-fast race for sure," he said.

"Last year it was awesome being able to race with a home crowd, mates from school who would not usually watch cycling came along because it was in Christchurch.

"I had my family there and the cycling community were there in force too."

The teenage tyro out-sprinted the elite field last year, but with the track stars in the field, he will need different tactics on Sunday.

"This year it will need to be more of a long-range attack because I can’t match those track boys in their top-end power."

Wollaston will have strong competition from older sister Nina, as well as Clyde’s Nicole Shields and West Coast rider Sharlotte Lucas.

There are more than 140 riders competing, with the street race starting at 2pm and races for under-17 and under-19 categories.

The elite women will race over 35 minutes from 4.50pm and the elite men over 45 minutes from 5.35pm.

The start-finish is near the Bridge of Remembrance in Cambridge Tce and takes in a 1km course over Cashel, Montreal and Gloucester Sts.


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