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“You have to have the legs to win on that course. It doesn’t matter if you have a team of 10 or an army of 20, if you don’t have the legs, you aren’t going to win," Roulston says

Photo: Sirotti

HAYDEN ROULSTON

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NATIONAL CHAMPIONSSHIPS

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10.01.2014 @ 13:27 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Key cyclists are expecting a war of attrition at this weekend’s New Zealand elite road national championships in Christchurch.

 

The 185km men’s race on Sunday includes 10 climbs up the testing Dyers Pass in the Cashmere Hills, while Saturday’s women’s race comprises six ascents.

 

There is always plenty of conjecture about the merits of the battle between the World Pro Tour riders,  others riding internationally, the domestic cyclists and those banding together in trade teams.

 

However the winners of the previous four men’s titles in Christchurch believe it is more a case of the last man standing rather than the intricacies of tactics.

 

“You have to have the legs to win on that course,” said three-time and defending champion, Hayden Roulston.”It doesn’t matter if you have a team of 10 or an army of 20, if you don’t have the legs, you aren’t going to win.”

 

The 2012 winner, James Williamson from Alexandra believes the Dyers Pass climb is the key.

 

“It’s really a race of attrition. The key to doing well is the ability to manage repeat efforts up the climb,” Williamson said. “Yes you have to be able to ride the distance but the climbs are where you see them dropping off.”

 

Garmin Sharp professional Jack Bauer, who won in 2010, said groups of riders can make a difference but the strongest on the day generally prevails.

 

“For us Northern Hemisphere riders it is tough because we have been riding from January until October and so it’s hard to be as fit as you would like to be for this,” Bauer said.

 

“That’s no excuse though. The three Radioshack boys riding together last year did make a difference but it is also a case of being really strong over the climbs.”

 

Roulston, who is wearing the new colours of the Trek Factory Team, is chasing his fourth national road race title on Sunday, and his third in the last four years.

 

He will get support from fellow Trek World Pro Teammate Jesse Sergent, while there will be chances for Bauer, the 2010 winner, and Geoge Bennett, second last year, who will have his first major ride for his new Cannondale team.

 

Williamson, the 2012 champion, has had a mixed build-up but believes he can be a contender and will receive considerable support from his New Zealand Cycling Project team , a new trade team established by James Canny.

Michael Vink, a two-time under-23 national champion, will also have trade team support, along with Jason Allen, Olympic medallist Marc Ryan and former Olympian Robin Reid from Scotty Browns Vision Systems.

 

The well-performed Mike Northey and Roman van Uden both enjoyed strong showings last year and are sure to be prominent at the business-end of Sunday’s race.

 

James Oram, who rides for the new Bissell Development team in USA this year, is heavily favoured to defend his under-23 road race honours from Lotto Belisol Development professional Hayden McCormick and the likes of Dion Smith, new time trial champion Fraser Gough and Liam Aitcheson.

 

The championships began with the time trials at Lincoln College on Friday, with women’s road race over 120.5kms on Saturday comprising eight laps with six climbs of the infamous Dyers Pass. The elite and under-23 men’s race on Sunday is 12 laps in total for 183.7kms, starting with the usual full lap on the flat before 10 circuits up the Dyers Pass climb and a final flat lap to the finish.

 

Taylor Gunman became a surprise winner of the elite time trial while Gough took the U23 title.

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