Buchanan chases place in cycling history at national road championships

By Sports Media NZ

Te Awamutu’s Rushlee Buchanan has the chance to create history when she defends her titles at next month’s Elite Road Cycling National Championships in Napier.

Buchanan, just returned from her base in USA, can become the first female to win the national championship road race four times when the event returns to the Hawkes Bay from 6-8 January.

The 28-year-old heads a 36-strong women’s field for the road race which has been bolstered with the inclusion of a separate under-23 division as a result of the continued growth of young female riders.
Buchanan won the road title in 2010, 2014 and this year to join former Auckland rider Melissa Holt as three-time winners of the national title.

With the retirement of Jo Kiesanowski and the unavailability of Linda Villumsen, Buchanan is the only former winner to compete in the 2017 edition.

She will also defend her time trial title in a return to the road following a break after the Rio Olympics where she was part of the women’s team pursuit.

Buchanan will be joined by her fellow Rio Olympic riders including double time trial winner Jaime Nielsen, national road and time trial podium placegetter Georgia Williams and the in-form Racquel Sheath, who won the national criterium title and Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge last month.

Other riders to contend will include Hokitika’s Sharlotte Lucas, a three-time Calder Stewart Series winner, who was third in the time trial in 2016; the irrepressible Karen Fulton (Tasman), who was pipped by Sheath and Drummond in Taupo; and Roxsalt rider Ruby Livingstone (Auckland)
Rushlee Buchanan winning the 2016 Road National Championships in Napier earlier this year. Credit: John Cowpland

There is also a raft of young talent led by Manawatu’s Michaela Drummond, a junior world championship medallist on the track, who is riding for Mike Greer Homes team in the Calder Stewart series this year and was runner-up to Sheath in Taupo.

Other teenage talent include national representatives Georgia Catterick (Blenheim), who will join American UCI Continental Team Illuminate next year; Auckland’s Madeleine Park, who will race for the high profile Team TIBCO-SVB in USA and track prospects Holly White and Nina Wollaston.

There is also interest in the entry of former mountain runner and triathlete Kate McIlroy who has moved to road cycling, signing with the Specialized Women’s Team in Australia. She was first female home in the full 160km distance of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge.

Elite women: Helen Baillie-Strong (BikeLab Cervelo), Rushlee Buchanan (UnitedHealthcare); Alicia Evans (Auckland), Karen Fulton (Tasman Wheelers), Kirstie James (Cycling Southland), Natalie Kerwin (Team Virtu), Rebecca Kingsford (Waikato BoP), Ruby Livingstone (Roxsolt Attaquer), Sharlotte Lucas
(Roxsolt), Kirsty McCallum (East Coast North Island), Kate McIlroy (Specialized Womens Racing), Josephine Meldgaard (Roxsolt Attaquer), Jaime Nielsen (Waikato BoP), Kerri-Anne Page (Bike Box), Racquel Sheath (Waikato BoP), Hannah Van Kampen (East Coast North Island), Georgia Williams (BePink Laclassica), Kate Wightman (BikeLab Cervelo).

Under-23: Grace Anderson (Mike Greer Homes), Georgia Catterick (Illuminate), Michaela Drummond (Dallas DNA Pro Cycling), Ella Harris (Mike Greer Homes), Mikayla Harvey (Mike Greer Homes),  Amanda Jamieson (Mike Greer Homes), Ione Johnson(Mike Greer Homes), Michaela Kerr (Mike Greer Homes), Rylee McMullen (Roxsolt Attaquer), Deborah  Paine (BikeBox Rentals), Madeleine Park (Team TIBCO SVK), Olivia Ray (Auckland), Jade Regan (Mike Greer Homes), Lydia Rippon (Roxsolt), Elizabeth Stannard (West Coast North Island), Nina Wollaston (Auckland), Renee Wootton (BikeLab Cervelo), Laura Newman-Watt (BikeLab Cervelo).
The men’s field will be released on Monday.

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