5 Jan 2019

Under-23 cyclist heads home elite riders at National Champs

4:15 pm on 5 January 2019

Georgia Christie of Marlborough headed home the elite riders to claim the under-23 women's title at the National Road Cycling Championships in Napier.

Georgia Christie, winner of Cycling NZ Elite Womens Road Race 2018.


Under 23 riders filled the first four places in the combined 109km race with Holly Edmondston of South Canterbury finishing fifth to take the elite title.

Christie (nee Catterick) went solo with 50km to go and was never caught.

Christie crossed the line in 3:13:34 for the 109km journey, finishing 12 seconds clear of the chasers, with under-23 riders claiming the first four placings, headed by Deborah Paine (Waikato Bay of Plenty) and Vantage elite track rider Michaela Drummond (West Coast North Island) completing the podium.

Drummond's national track teammate Holly Edmondston out-kicked the other elite riders in the remains of the peloton to claim the elite honours in 3:14:04 in a photo finish ahead of Canterbury's Sharlotte Lucas and defending champion Georgia Williams of Auckland.

"I can't believe it. I am overwhelmed," said Christie, whose husband Jason will defend his men's national championship title on Sunday.

Christie, who has ridden strongly for US pro Team Illuminate in 2017 and 2018, has made her name mostly in time trials, winning the under-23 honours in this discipline last year. Today she bridged up to Libby Arbuckle and elite track rider Kirstie James before going it alone when the race returned for the gruelling climbs of Napier hill.

"I was hoping to keep with the two riders who had gone up the road and form a little break but it didn't work out. I was thinking oh my god it is a long way to go. But I just paced myself and I can't believe it," Christie said.

Her two-minute advantage was whittled down to just 13 seconds with two laps remaining and the catch appeared imminent. But Christie dug deep and managed to extend the bungy cord to the finish.

"I tried to use the tailwind as much as possible - just get down and go hard. I was dying up the last climb and was holding on for dear life and resting on the downhill. It was as hard as I could go up the last climb."

Edmondston, who has recovered from a training crash as she prepares for the UCI Track World Cup in Cambridge in two weeks, struggled up the climb but managed to hang on and use her speed to edge out the elite riders Sharlotte Lucas and defending champion Williams in the dash to the line.

"I was happy to get to the inner-city circuit. It was tough and there was a crash on the rural circuit which mixed everything up a bit," said Edmondston. "I was counting each lap done as a blessing and when I got to the last lap, I just gave it everything.

"Georgia (Christie) was so strong up the hill but if the peloton had driven it more then I would have been out the back. But the right things happened for me and I was able to stay on and use my track speed at the end."

There was no double-double for Mitchelton Scott world tour rider Williams, who had to be content with the defence of her time trial honours on Friday, finishing third today in the photo finish that decided the elite podium.

Williams came with a target on her back as the race favourite and did much of the work to spark the peloton which did not react after closing down the gap to the leader with two laps remaining.

"It was a frustrating race. I knew it would be. I think I did all I could," said Williams who was the marked rider throughout the race. "It was hard. We got the peloton going a few times but then it would sit-up. It was yo-yoing and frustrating.

"I am glad that Georgia (Christie) did it like that and that the win went to a deserving winner. If I had to lose it then she so deserves it. She rode awesome."

The focus moves to the Elite and Under-23 men's road race over 166kms on Sunday, that includes UCI World Tour stars George Bennett, time trial winner Patrick Bevin, Tom Scully and Dion Smith, two-time and defending champion Jason Christie and Commonwealth Games mountain bike champion Sam Gaze.