Cycling: New Zealand riders finish down the field

New Zealand riders finished in the big bunches as the sprinters decided the fortunes in the age-group road races at the road cycling world championships in Copenhagen today.

The largely flat 14km circuit around Copenhagen resulted in a massive bunch sprint for the honours in both the junior women's and under-23 men's races.

Alexandra's Sophie Williamson finished 18th in the bunch in the 70km junior women's race, recording the same time as winner Lucy Garner (GBR). Auckland's Tom David was the best of the BikeNZ riders in the under-23 men, finishing back in the huge peloton in the same time as winner Amaud Demare (FRA) in the 168km race.

New Zealand's main sprint hope in the men, James Williamson, had positioned himself well with strong early work from George Bennett and David in support. But the 22-year-old, who has enjoyed and excellent season for PureBlack Racing in the US this year, was held up by a small pile-up late in the race which cost him his chances. Bennett also had no luck as he punctured on the final lap.

An early break by Brazil's Carlos Manorelli that stretched to five minutes was hauled in with two laps remaining with the two big French sprinters dominating the uphill sprint finish with David near the back of an 87-strong leading bunch, all awarded the same time.

Earlier the junior women's race over five laps followed similar lines with 38 riders contesting the bunch sprint won by Garner with Sophie Williamson, young sister of James, finishing with a creditable 18th place.

It has been a strong campaign for the 17-year-old from Alexandra, who won a bronze at the recent junior track world championships.

It was not such good fortunes for her team-mate Georgia Williams (Auckland), who was involved in a crash early in the race and required medical assistance. She was later taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

"The racing went largely to what we all thought would happen today," BikeNZ director sportif Andy Reid said. "It is a fast and flowing circuit with few opportunities for a significant break to stick.

"The junior women averaged over 40kph, which gives some idea of the speeds here and it really suits an out-and-out sprinter which is not really to our strengths.

"Sophie was impressive in the junior girls and got herself into an excellent position. It was a striking ride from her."

The elite women's race will be contested overnight, but the course isn't expected to suit Linda Villumsen who won silver in the women's time trial earlier in the week. The men's race is set for Monday (NZT) with the BikeNZ team comprising Jack Bauer and pro tour sprinters Julian Dean and Greg Henderson.

RESULTS:

Junior women's road race (70km): Lucy Garner (GBR) 1:46.17, 1; Jessy Druyts (BEL) same time, 2; Christina Siggaard (DEN) same time, 3. Also New Zealanders: Sophie Williamson same time, 18; Georgia Williams dnf.

Under-23 men (168km): Amaud Demare (FRA) 3:52.16, 1; Adrien Petit (FRA) same time, 2; Andrew Penn (GBR) same time, 3. Also New Zealanders: Tom David same time, 80; James Williamson at 1:52, 112; George Bennett at 9:34, 134.

- APNZ

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