Shane Archbold (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) sprinted to an emphatic win today at the New Zealand National Championships, held in Cambridge, over a 173-kilometre long course.
Sunday’s race was divided into two halves: a hilly first half featuring two ascents of the Muangakawa Road (2.9km, 8.3%) and a pan-flat second half consisting of five laps. It was there, with 60 kilometres to go, that George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) attacked together with Michael Torckler and eked out what looked to be a race-winning advantage. Unfazed by the maximum gap that stood at around four minutes, Shane Archbold kept pulling behind together with a small group, before powering away with two riders.
Another acceleration dispatched the two and saw Archbold go in pursuit of Bennett, now alone in the lead. With ten kilometres left, Archbold was 1:15 behind his countryman, but continued to push hard on the pedals and chip away seconds from Bennett’s lead, to whom he bridged across at the 4km-to-go mark.
Showing confidence after this strong ride, Archbold led out the sprint, kicking out with 200 metres to go and easily dispatching his companion en route to his maiden national title. Dylan Kennett (St George Continental Cycling Team) finished 55″ down to take the bronze medal.
“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, especially as the title is not something I ever thought would happen after the last few years with so many injuries. When I attacked inside the last 20 kilometres, 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 said.
The upcoming UAE Tour will be his first race in the Silver Fern jersey and Archbold didn’t hide his enthusiasm at the thought he’ll soon show off his new jersey: “I don’t have too many opportunities, but when I get one, I try to make it count! 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.”