Bike NZ road coach Jacques Landry believes New Zealand could figure in the medals on the road in next year's Beijing Olympics. This follows the great performance from Christchurch cyclist Jo Kiesanowski, who finished 15th in the UCI World Road Cycling Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The professional from the Raleigh Life Force team was in a select 18-strong breakaway group on the final lap of the demanding course at Stuttgart, finishing in the pack sprint just six seconds behind the winner Marta Bastianelli (Italy).
It is understood to be the best finish from a New Zealand female cyclist at world championships. Landry said Kiesanowski was slightly disappointed she could not figure more strongly in the sprint but she "didn't have much left in the tank."
Landry continued that "Jo raced brilliantly and rode strongly up in the elite group in the peloton all day. It bodes well for Beijing because we have an athlete capable of competing against the best in the world." Things may have been different for the New Zealanders if Wellington's Rosara Joseph wouldn't have dropped her chain, unable to rejoin the peloton late in the race.
"Rosara looked really strong at that stage up in the peloton and it was a mechanical problem that no-one could have envisaged. Had she been with the peloton it could well have meant an even better outcome for New Zealand as she could have really helped Jo. The good thing now is we have six or seven strong female riders who will push for the three spots we are likely to have in the road team for Beijing."
Auckland's Toni Bradshaw was brought down on the wet surface in the first lap and was unable to catch the peloton. The hilly seven lap course over 134 kilometres took its toll on the field as riders continued to drop off the peloton until an elite group of 20 formed with two laps remaining.
Kiesanowski decided to take the wheel of highly rated Trixie Worrack for the run-in to the line but the German ran out of gas to leave the kiwi to sprint without cover. "Jo gambled on what she thought was the wheel to follow. It didn't quite turn out but it was an exceptionally good ride," revealed Landry.
Italian Bastianelli broke clear with 15 kilometres to go and won the race solo. Defending world champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands) got up in that sprint for the silver medal and another Italian Georgia Bronzoni was third.
It was a tough race, with overnight rain making the wet surface treacherous while freshening winds caused havoc, blowing barriers in to the path of the cyclists, causing two crashes on the final two laps.
Rotorua rider Clinton Avery is recovering after a heavy crash in the men's under-23 race. He came down after touching wheels and has a hairline fracture at the top of his arm. New Plymouth rider Michael Torckler was the best of the young New Zealand team in 98th place, just ahead of Auckland's Alex Meenhorst.
"This is a young group and really they were here for the experience, to understand the pace and aggression of the filed. They will be two years away from their peak in this grade," said Landry. "It is very aggressive and fast. Clinton got caught up in that and crashed very heavily." Clinton required hospital treatment but was released later.