Good day at office but tough: Maier

Women’s Longest Day winner Simone Maier negotiates the 67km river stage. PHOTO: WAYNE PARSONS
Women’s Longest Day winner Simone Maier negotiates the 67km river stage. PHOTO: WAYNE PARSONS
The weather held off long enough for Wanaka’s Simone Maier to win a fifth Longest Day title in the Coast to Coast on Saturday.

The predicted rain set to arrive about 5pm in Christchurch held off long enough for Maier not to be troubled as she powered to victory to lift the tape at New Brighton in 12hr 31min 8sec.

Maier was involved up front from the start and was in a large bunch of riders containing all top-ranked females.

With no fewer than 10 women having the credentials to take control, Maier rode out the initial onslaught and calmly went about contesting her own race.

Triathlon convert Deborah Lynch (Porirua) was the first of the elite group to take the race to Maier early on the alpine run stage, building up a handy 3min lead over the four-time champion heading through the transition at Klondyke to a 15km bike ride to Mount White Bridge.

Handily placed in second and unfazed by Lynch’s front-running tactic, Maier also had to be aware of Hannah Lund (Methven) and Fiona Dowling (Christchurch), who were both still within range.

Gear failure caused Lynch to run aground, opening up an opportunity for Maier to take the lead and paddle her way to a substantial lead.

A strong tail wind on the final cycle stage as a southerly began to blow through assisted her charge towards a fifth title.

Behind her, it was Lund who set about securing second in 12hr 51min 9sec, while Dowling held on to third in 12hr 58min 31sec.

"It was a good day at the office, but it was hard going," Maier said of being made to work hard for victory and hold out the next generation of champions.

"I had no idea with how far ahead I was. I just tried to do my own thing and keep upright in the boat."

With wind gusts sweeping the course on the river stage, Maier said that the harder the conditions got the better as it seemed to bring out the best in her.

"It was an amazing tail wind but you certainly had to be on your guard."

Maier said everything went well for her throughout the race.

"Although I felt I had a good run, I just hoped I didn’t push it to hard. But it felt good.

"And I thought ‘oh God, I hope I didn’t burn my matches there’. But everything went all right after that."

Maier added that she had some anxious moments on the 70km bike to the finish.

"I had a pretty good tail wind but there were a lot of crosswinds and I kept thinking ‘don’t mess this up’. I just needed to play it safe," she said.

As for winning a fifth title, Maier said she needed to let it sink in before making any future plans.

"I’m pretty munted right now."

It was a race of changing fortunes in the two-day women’s individual category.

Dunedin paramedic Courtney Hawke found she had a battle on her hands to retain her lead over the 67km river section and 70km bike to the finish at New Brighton, as one of the pre-race favourites, Sonja Vreugdenhil (Mount Somers), came through to break the tape in 13hr 49min 11sec.

Ella Julian (Whakatane) crossed soon after in 13hr 53min 8sec to claim second place after beginning the second day in third.

Hawke, who held pole position for the second day of racing, held on for third in 14hr 2min 35sec.

In just her first attempt at the ace Hawke (25) has a lot of race experience to take away from the event.