Twenty-one year old Auckland rider Ella Wyllie has edged her way in a sprint finish to claim the 2024 UCI Elite Road Championship in Timaru today.
After a classy group of star riders pushed clear mid-race, it finally came down to a frantic final sprint with Wyllie edging out the time trial winner Kim Cadzow and under-23 MTB world champion Sammie Maxwell.
Wyllie, who impressed many finishing seventh overall on general classification at the recent Tour Down Under in Australia, used that experience in her effort today.
She is overwhelmed with the victory and thrilled to be able to take the national jersey to where on the UCI Women’s WorldTour this season with her new team, Liv AlUla Jayco.
“Without the learnings from my team at the Tour Down Under I would not have been able to win that today,” said Wyllie.
“I am just overwhelmed. I learned so much with the girls in Australia. I stayed patient and backed my sprint.
“It is going to be epic. It is a bit over-whelming right now but may be when I see the kit design for the national jersey then it will hit home. Oh my goodness, it is pretty surreal. It is going to be a big year ahead moving to the WorldTour and I will be doing everything I can to do the jersey proud.”
The cream rose to the top in the women’s race with WorldTour riders Mikayla Harvey (UAE Team ADQ), time trial winner Kim Cadzow (EF Education), under-23 time trial winner Wyllie (Liv AlUla Jayco) and UCI Under-23 MTB World Champion Sammie Maxwell (Decathlon Ford) pushing clear mid-race.
They were chased by former Team TIBCO pro Sharlotte Lucas and Ella Harris (Wahoo Lifeplus) The quartet remained intact inside 10kms remaining, but only three survived for the final climb with Harvey dropped.
In the final sprint Wylie edged Cadzow with Maxwell an impressive third.
Oamaru rider Reef Roberts made it a rare double to claim the road race honours after winning the time trial.
Roberts, who knows the roads in Timaru well, had to work hard early on as the peloton brought back the break in the 122.5km, five-lap race in cool conditions.
As things hotted up, a select group went clear at the front as Roberts edged out Lachlan McNabb and Carter Guichard in the sprint finish.
“It is special winning both titles. I go to school here in Timaru so it is home roads, and it’s pretty sic,” said Roberts.
“The course is good. It has a hard climb; I was swinging a bit on the early laps but made it up.
“There was a few riders who cased the early break but mostly we were pretty chill about it. In those first few laps I was pretty cold but once we started working, then it warmed up. I am stoked with the result.”
Tomorrow is the under-19 women road race over 73kms followed by the under-23 and men’s road race over 196kms.
Under-19 Male (122.5kms): Reef Roberts (Oamaru, Cycling South Canterbury) 3:05.55, 1; Lachlan McNabb (Cycling Marlborough) at 1s, 2; Garter Guichard (AG2R Decathlon) same time, 3.
Elite & U23 Female (122.5km): Ella Wyllie (Liv AlUla Jayco) 3:28.28, 1; Kim Cadzow (Ef Education-Cannondale) same time, 2; Samara Maxwell (Decathlon Ford) at 1sec, 3.
Elite: Cadzow 1, Maxwell 2, Mikayla Harvey (UAE Team ADQ) at 17s, 3.
Under-23: Wyllie 1, Brea Roderick (Tinwald) at 3:16, 2; Muireann Breen (Black magic) at 16:22, 3.
Photo credit: David Collins