Cycling: Christie upstages favourites to win national road race

By Brenton Vannisselroy

Jason Christie. Photo / photosport.co.nz
Jason Christie. Photo / photosport.co.nz

Ashburton's Jason Christie has upstaged the World Tour riders to win the national men's road race in Napier.

He has soloed to victory on Marine Parade, finishing 16 seconds clear of One Pro Cycling rider Dion Smith, with 40-year-old Robin Reid completing the podium.

Christie, 25, will now wear the New Zealand champion's jersey in all road races he lines up in with his Kenyan Riders Downunder team in 2016, starting with the New Zealand Cycle Classic later this month.

"It's going to be pretty special. I get to wear it at the Sun Tour and Cadel's race. It's overwhelming to be honest," Christie said.

It also means the national title is returning to Mid-Canterbury, with Christie following in the footsteps of his childhood hero Hayden Roulston, a four-time champion.

"He was inspirational when I was younger," Christie said.

"He coached me from a young age, from when I first started pretty much through to junior worlds and he was a lot of help."

Jason Christie, Smith and Reid were part of a six-man group which animated the 180 kilometre race and pulled clear on the Napier city circuit.

Christie made the pivotal move on the penultimate climb up Spencer Road, pulling clear of his breakaway partners and quickly building a lead of more than 30 seconds.

"I threw caution to the wind and just raced my bike," he said.

"Everyone just follows and sits and no one actually just races.

"So I just went out there and f... it tried to win and if I risk losing, f... it I don't care, at least I tried to win."

As Christie made his move World Tour rider George Bennett, of Lotto NL Jumbo, had a mechanical and lost contact with the chasing four of Smith, Reid, James Oram and Hamish Schreurs.

Reid was riding for Bennett, the only other Tasman rider in the field.

"He's a good friend of mine and he's really riding well at the moment, but unfortunately on the second to last time up the climb his battery shorted out and he was stuck in the big chain ring and that was it for him," Reid said.

"I really couldn't do anything at all to help him in that sort of situation, so I started to think what I could do for myself.

"But to be honest my legs were pretty shot."

"I haven't done the racing or the consistent training to be able to really put it done in the final stages of a race like that."

Smith was left to rue his mistake, when he and Oram, his One Pro Cycling team-mate, didn't cover Christie's move.

"We obviously just misjudged it a little bit, because we had the numbers and there was still about 30km left so we thought we could bring him back slowly," Smith said.

"We did a little bit but we ran out of road I guess."

Time trial champion Patrick Bevin eventually finished the best of the World Tour riders in fifth, more than two minutes behind Christie, while Bennett crossed the line a further five and a half minutes back in 10th, ahead of Jesse Sergent.

Sam Bewley and Greg Henderson, riding in his final nationals, were amongst the majority of riders which failed to finish.

Hamish Schreurs claimed the national under-23 title ahead of time trial champion Hayden McCormick and Liam Aitcheson.

- NZ Herald

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