Skip to main content

Buchanan bests the rest

Te Awamutu's Rushlee Buchanan turned in a gutsy performance to capture her first RaboPlus national road racing title on a testing course in Christchurch today.

The 21-year-old national criterium champion, who races for team Colavita/Baci in the United States, took charge of the 123 kilometre race at the halfway stage and never looked back.

In the last of the eight laps she had to withstand a bold challenge from former Dane, Linda Villumsen who has recently switched her nationality to that of New Zealand. Villumsen chopped a deficit of more than six minutes in half as she turned in a brilliant performance on the difficuly Dyers Pass Rd hill climb. However, she left her run too late and finished 3:06 behind the Te Awamutu woman.

"I'm ecstatic," Buchanan said. "I didn't think about the finish line until I turned the corner for the last time. I didn't think for one second I'd be able to win the title but I wanted to go at my own pace uphill and tried to keep the tempo going.

"I left everything out on the road today. This is the biggest and most important win of my career."

Villumsen found the hill climb on the course, based on that used for the 1974 Commonwealth Games road race, "a killer".

"I didn't feel so good out there today; it was a struggle. As well as the hill I was still feeling the effects of the time trial yesterday."

She said with no-one from the peloton pushing the pace it became very difficult to make inroads into Buchanan's lead.

Third place-getter Kaytee Boyd, of Auckland, was thrilled with her showing. She said she and Villumsen talked tactics during the race and decided to share the job of trying to catch Buchanan.

"I went first, got caught and then Linda attacked. When she'd had enough, I took another turn; it was good teamwork.

"The hill climbs weren't as hard as I thought. Most of the girls I know were scared of them, but it's all about how hard you can suffer."

Boyd finished 1:05 behind her new Auckland teammate.

The first significant breakaway occurred in the second lap when national points series champion Serena Sheridan stepped up the pace. The Hawke's Bay rider who represents East Coast North Island opened up a gap of 2:06 on the peloton by the start of the third lap.

By the end of that lap however, she was being pushed by Aucklander Marina Duvnjak and Buchanan. At the halfway stage the two challengers caught Sheridan who hit the wall on her next hill climb and faded.

Buchanan then hit her straps with Duvnjak more than 2 minutes in arrears and another 4:35 to the bunch. By the bell lap Buchanan enjoyed a 6:40 advantage over Villumsen and Wellington's Rachel Mercer but she had no chance to cruise as Villumsen wound up for a last-ditch assault.

Thirty-six riders contested the event. Waikato/BoP's Sonia Waddell finished 11th, national time-trial champion and defending road race champion Melissa Holt was 16th and Sheridan finished 21st. Canterbury's Joanne Kiesanowski was among the late withdrawals. She suffered mild concussion after a fall mid-week.

The men's race over 186kms on the same course starts at 10.30am tomorrow.

1Rushlee Buchanan (New Zealand)3:46:15
2Linda Villumsen (New Zealand)0:03:06
3Kaytee Boyd (New Zealand)0:04:11
4Rachel Mercer (New Zealand)0:04:28
5Karen Fulton (New Zealand)0:05:02
6Emma Crum (New Zealand)
7Courteney Lowe (New Zealand)
8Toni Bradshaw (New Zealand)
9Tracy Best (New Zealand)
10Sia Svendsen (New Zealand)0:05:05
11Sonia Waddell (New Zealand)0:06:49
12Donna Sibley (New Zealand)
13Nicole Begg (New Zealand)
14Lauren Ellis (New Zealand)0:07:10
15Emma Petersen (New Zealand)
16Melissa Holt (New Zealand)
17Melanie Burke (New Zealand)0:10:05
18Tracy Clark (New Zealand)0:10:08
19Bronwen Fraser (New Zealand)0:10:11
20Jeannie Kuhajek (New Zealand)0:10:14
21Serena Sheridan (New Zealand)0:10:20
22Josie Giddens (New Zealand)0:14:27
DNFLana King (New Zealand)
DNFCushla McKay (New Zealand)
DNFHarriet Smithies (New Zealand)
DNFNimesha Smith (New Zealand)
DNFSara MacDonald (New Zealand)
DNFJessica Jolly (New Zealand)
DNFMarina Duvnjak (New Zealand)
DNFGayle Brownlee (New Zealand)
DNFKate Chilcott (New Zealand)
DNFYvette Hill-Willis (New Zealand)
DNFGabrielle Vermunt (New Zealand)
DNFGemma Dudley (New Zealand)
DNFEmily Collins (New Zealand)
DNSJoanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand)
DNSLaura Green (New Zealand)
DNSRosy McCall (New Zealand)
DNSNaila Hassan (New Zealand)
DNSKerri-Anne Torckler (New Zealand)


Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Latest on Cyclingnews