Shane Archbold (Deceuninck-QuickStep) took victory at the New Zealand National Championships road race on Saturday, his first win as part of the Belgian team. The 31-year-old, a new signing for the squad in 2020, beat George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) to the line by two seconds in Cambridge.
Bennett had attacked during the tough, hilly first section of the 174km course, jumping away with Michael Torckler. Having started the flat 50km run-in with a four-minute advantage over the chasing pack, Bennett went it along 10km later.
The 29-year-old still held gap of 2:30 with 20km left to race, but Archbold had set off in pursuit along with two others, and the Jumbo man was tiring. After setting off solo, Archbold made up 1:15 in six kilometres to catch Bennett four kilometres from the line.
With the WorldTour duo well ahead of the chasers, Archbold could save something for the final sprint, which – as a lead out man – he won with ease against the climbing specialist.
Meanwhile, in the women's road race, Niamh Fisher-Black (Bigla-Katusha) triumphed over Ella Harris (Canyon-Sram). The 19-year-old, who joined Bigla for 2020, attacked in the closing metres of the race to secure victory, her second of the year after th Gravel and Tar la femme race in January.
Archbold's win is the biggest of his career so far. Last year he took his maiden victory, sprinting to the win on stage 2 of the Czech Tour just a handful of months after returning to the WorldTour with Bora-Hansgrohe. He had spent a season and a half at Pro Continental and Continental level after a 14-month long recovery from a fractured pelvis suffered at the 2016 Tour de France.
"I am so stoked to pull on this jersey. To know that I am the new National Champion and will get to show this beautiful jersey in some of the biggest races in the world is an incredible feeling," Archbold said in a team press release.
"When I attacked inside the last 20 kilometers, I said to myself it was now or never. After dropping the other guys, I continued to believe and gave it my all to make the catch. In the sprint, I knew I had the upper hand and that was that."
Archbold is set to wear his new jersey for the first time at the upcoming UAE Tour. There, he'll ride alongside Danish national champion Michael Mørkøv in the lead out train for Irish national champion Sam Bennett.
"I don’t have too many opportunities, but when I get one, I try to make it count," he said. "This was the case also today. I am incredibly happy to wear this jersey as part of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step team and can’t wait for the next race with Michael Mørkøv and Sam Bennett, to make together with them a very colourful lead-out train."
Along with Mørkøv and Bennett, Deceuninck-QuickStep also have Bob Jungels (Luxembourg) and Fabio Jakobsen (Netherlands) riding in their national champion's jerseys on the road this season. Meanwhile, Jungels and Kasper Asgreen (Denmark) will don their national colours in time trials.
What a man! Absolutely delighted for @Theflyingmullet. Winning his New Zealand national championships after a hard few years back from injury💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/OK6kXfGWBkFebruary 16, 2020
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Shane Archbold (NZl) Deceuninck-QuickStep||4:14:42|
|2||George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma||0:00:02|
|3||Dylan Kennett (NZl) St George Continental Cycling Team||0:00:55|
|4||Aaron Gate (NZl) Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy||0:00:56|
|5||Ollie Jones (NZl)||0:01:04|
|6||Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott||0:01:07|
|7||Logan Griffin (NZl)||0:01:10|
|8||Hayden McCormick (NZl) Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy||0:01:43|
|9||Luke Mudgway (NZl) Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy||0:01:45|
|10||Finn Fisher-Black (NZl) Jumbo-Visma Development Team||0:02:53|