Local win for Drummond, Otago teenager Gardner in Criterium Nationals

Road, Track & Cyclocross
EW Crit Podium v2

Experienced campaigner Michaela Drummond and teenage talent James Gardner claimed the elite honours at the Cycling New Zealand Criterium Nationals in Palmerston North.

It was a special hometown moment for Drummond, the international road professional and double track world championship medallist.

She sat in a six-strong lead bunch, which turned up the heat on the rest of the field under the pressure exerted initially by under-23 MTB world champion Sammi Maxwell and then WorldTour road rider Kim Cadzow.

They pushed well clear with no other riders on the lead lap before Drummond used her track speed and nous to sprint clear to claim the elite women’s honours ahead of Rylee McMullen and veteran Sharlotte Lucas.

“I am very happy with that. It was a big goal of mine to take the national jersey to Europe. I am just so stoked. It’s special because when you are racing overseas, they are aware that you are a national champion. It is going to be so cool,” said Drummond.

“Kim Cadzow was so strong on the front, pulling hard with Sammie Maxwell that made it so hard. I just sat on. I am a sprinter so I had to hang on and use my strengths. I am on a contract with a French team. I don’t go until March with focus on the track programme first, and the big goal of the Paris Olympics of course.”

The women raced 45 minutes plus three laps of the 1.9km circuit at Massey University.

The elite men’s race was well controlled by the riders from MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project, the only UCI sanctioned professional team this year.

They were well represented in the action throughout the 50-minute race plus three laps as the likes of defending champion Luke Mudgway, Ryan Christensen and Commonwealth Games MTB silver medallist Ben Oliver pushed to hold off the MitoQ brigade.

While the gap stretched to over 30 seconds at one stage, the chasers closed in on the final two laps, with Christensen pushing hard after a puncture.

However the Mito-Q riders timed things perfectly as Gardner pushed to the front ahead of teammate James Wilson and Christensen in the dash for the podium.

It was a strong performance from Gardner, just 18, who won a stage of the Tour of Southland recently and last year represented New Zealand on the track at the junior world championships last year.

“I am bloody stoked. That was awesome,”: said Gardner. “The team put it on the whole day. We stuck to the plan and stoked it worked out. It is the best thing ever.

“We had a lot of boys from MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project racing with the NZ Cycle Classic last week and then Josh Burnett winning the Gravel & Tar yesterday as well. It has been an awesome week for us lads.

“The team were on all day – perfect. James Wilson and I were in the right place at the right time and did the right things. I am rapped to go one-two especially after James put in such a massive effort for us today.

“The national criterium jersey racing in the in United States this year with the team will be awesome. We will wear that proud when the team races in the States.”

Earlier Marlborough’s Finn McKenzie got up in the frantic final sprint to win the under-19 honours from Oamaru’s Reef Roberts and good friend Lachlan McNabb from Blenheim, all recording the same time.

“I managed to catch up along the flat and come from behind to overtake Reef and win,” said McKenzie. “I only asked a week ago if I could come up. It is awesome to get this win. Can’t beat it.”

It was an all northern podium in the under-17 boys with David Kwon winning in the sprint from fellow Aucklander Harry Shannon and North Shore’s Andrew Jensen, all recording the same time.

Auckland’s Ava Maddison outlasted Alex Rawlinson (Tauranga) and Elena Worrall (Auckland) to win the under-19 titles.

“It was pretty tough race. There was a gnarly head wind coming in to the finish and I need to position myself well each time, save as much energy and get the other girls to do the work to save my legs,” said Maddison.

‘It is awesome to have more women cycling – we need more in New Zealand. I always support more teams coming in to racing. It was a pleasure racing them.”

The under-17 title went to Auckland’s Nina Worrall.


Female, under 17 (30 mins + 1lap): Nina Worrall (Auckland) 39:51.43, 1; Poppy McIvor (Invercargill) at 1sec, 2; Minnie Collins (Levin) 1 lap, 3.

Under-19 (30mins + 1lap): Ava Maddison (Auckland) 39:34.60, 1; Alex Rawlinson (Tauranga) same time, 2; Elena Worrall (MitoQ-NZ Cycle Project, Auckland) st, 3.

Elite (45mins + 3laps): Michaela Drummond (Manawatu, Arkea B&B Hotels) 56:19, 1; Rylee McMullen (Tokoroa, Denver Disruptors, st, 2; Sharlotte Lucas st, 3.

Male, Under-17: David Kwon (Auckland) 22:19.87, 1; Harry Shannon (Auckland) st, 2; Andrew Jensen (North Shore) st, 3.

Under-19: Finn McKenzie (Blenheim) 37:50.15, 1; Reef Roberts (Oamaru) st, 2; Lachlan McNabb (Blenheim) at 1 sec, 3.

Elite (50mins + 3 laps): James Gardner (MitoQ-NZ Cycle Project, Dunedin) 54:59, 1; James Wilson (MitoQ-NZ Cycle Project, Timaru) st, 2; Ryan Christensen (Hamilton) st, 3.

Back to news