Peloton Watch
  2019 New Zealand Road National Championships - Women's Road Race Preview  
  Georgia Williams celebrates winning the 2018 title. Photo: John Cowpland  
  New Zealand will be the first to crown their road race national champions in Napier on Saturday January 5th. With strong fields in both the under 23 and elite categories both titles will be hotly contested. Defending champions Grace Anderson (under 23) and Georgia Williams (elite) both return though with the likes of Rushlee Buchanan who is chasing a fifth title, Michaela Drummond (under 23), Oceania Champions Sharlotte Lucas (elite) and Mikayla Harvey (under 23) and Kate McIlroy (elite) they will face some of the strongest competition at a New Zealand Championships.

The 109 kilometre course starts on Marine Parade before heading out for a rural loop before returning to Napier for five laps of a city circuit. With nearly two kilometres of elevation on the rural loop expect to see the stronger climbers look to distance the sprinters as once on the local laps the Hospital Hill climb will be their chance to get way.

Under 23 Women's Road Race

Start List

Grace Anderson

Defending Champion Anderson had the season of her young career last year and it all started winning the Under 23 title, where she finished third across the line against the elite field. Anderson went on to finish top 10 and the best young rider at the Tour Down Under and impress across the US, Europe and Asia. A very strong climber who isn't afraid to take it to elite riders. Without a super quick finish will have to find a way to drop the sprinters.

Michaela Drummond

Silver medallist in 2017 was the only under 23 rider as part of the elite break that would contest the win only to fatigue in the closing stages and return to the bunch and just miss out on the title. After coming close in her first year under 23 and missing the Championships last year Drummond returns and has her eye on the top step of the podium. Two years of racing in the US and a Europe block last year sees Drummond as one of the most experienced riders in the peloton and has proved she can match the elite riders and packs a very quick finish.

Amanda Jamieson

Jamieson won the first under 23 title two years ago as the first under 23 rider across the line from the peloton. Has spent three years in Europe racing and the experience will prove valuable against a largely domestic field. A rider who tends to sit in the bunch but with a number of quick finishers will likely need to eliminate them if she wants to claim a second title.

Mikayla Harvey

While the time trial may be where her ultimate strength is Harvey is a strong climber and combined with her ability to time trial a long range move from Harvey could see her snare the title. Had a very strong 2018 including winning the Oceania Under 23 title and second in best young rider classification at the Tour Down Under. Coming back from injury so the time trial will be a sign of her form.

Other names to watch including track rider Bryony Botha, Georgia Christie and Jenna Merrick who steps up from juniors.

Elite Women's Road Race

Start List

Georgia Williams

The Commonwealth Games silver medallist's breakthrough 2018 all started in Napier and she returns looking to go back to back just as Rushlee Buchanan did in 2016 and 2017. Better known for her strength in the sprint as a former track rider Williams proved in 2018, she has the ability to handling the rolling and hilly terrain with some of the best in the world. Last year she rode away from everyone and took a nearly five minute win. That is unlikely to be as easy this time and on her own some of the domestic teams may look to isolate her but don't discount her riding her own race and dictating how things play out. If teams take her to the finish, then she will unleash her sprint and likely take another title.

Sharlotte Lucas

A silver medal in 2018 set Sharlotte Lucas up for a strong season though she has always been a rider to contend with at the National Championships. Four consecutive top 10 finishes including two podiums shows her strength as a one day classics rider. Added the Oceania title to her name on a rolling course last March beating out a number of more favoured names. A quick finisher but with a number of track stars on the line may need to play her cards early and drop them.

Rushlee Buchanan

The experienced Buchanan is chasing title number five having won in 2017, 2016, 2014 and 2010. Always consistent across National Championships be that road race, criterium or time trial. Can climb, time trial and sprint making her a dangerous combination for whatever situation may eventuate. Is always on form this time of year though with the Track World Cup in mid-January she may not be at her best this year.

Kate McIlroy

McIlroy finished fifth a year ago and has two bronze medals from 2012 and 2017 to her name. A quiet achiever compared to some of the more well known names, but the climber could produce another strong ride. Top 10 at the Tour Down Under and top 20 at the Commonwealth Games show her abilities on tough courses so if she can drop some of the sprinters don't be surprised to see her on the podium again.

Kirsty McCallum

After a DNF in 2016, 17th in 2017 McCallum took an impressive fourth place finish in 2018 and is a name that could again surprise if she can infiltrate her way in to a break that goes away to contest the race.

Other names to watch include Courteney Lowe, Jessie Hodges, Elyse Fraser and Racquel Sheath.
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