Georgia Williams completed her second double at the New Zealand national championships, mirroring her success of 2018, while George Bennett broke his duck and will wear the silver fern on the WorldTour this year.
SBS Cycling Central

15 Feb 2021 - 10:53 AM 

It was an early attack by Georgia Williams (Team BikeExchange) that saw her and Kate McCarthy (Cabjaks-Castelli), a full-time police officer go clear very early in the race, before the WorldTour rider picked off her companion of the previous 120 kilometres in the sprint for the line.

"I’m so happy, I did have a bit of pressure on my shoulders, but I just had to race smart, I knew I had the legs, so I’m happy to pull it off," Williams said.

Sharlotte Lucas (DNA Pro Cycling) claimed the final podium spot after a long solo chase.

The win completed the double for Williams, after she won the time trial earlier in the week.

"It is great for my team for me to win both jerseys and it’s a real honour to take them on to the WorldTour again."

"I watched her [McCarthy] race last year and it was so impressive, so when I saw her there, I was like ‘oh my gosh, perfect’, and she was awesome out there, I couldn’t have done it without her today.

"I thought I could get her [in the sprint], I wasn't 100 per cent sure, but I sort of forced her to lead the last 800 metres, so I was confident enough."

George Bennett got the monkey off his back as he finally took the New Zealand national championships jersey, claiming his first win at the championships after four silver medals, two each in the road race and time trial.

The Jumbo-Visma rider ended up winning by nearly two minutes but it was a hard-earned title as he attacked repeatedly before finally breaking free with 8km to go.

Mark Stewart (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) finished runner-up, edging out Michael Tocrkler (GD Pringle-Spoken Cycles) in the sprint for the silver medal.

"I’ve been trying for this title for 10 years. I have always wanted to win the jersey and to be able to wear it with my team all year on the WorldTour is so special," Bennett said.

"Honestly it has not sunk in yet. I am sure I will get home and think about what I am wearing all year – a big silver fern – man it makes me so happy to think about that.

Bennett failed to win the elite time trial gold by just a second behind Aaron Gate (BlackSpoke), though the fastest time on the course was Jumbo-Visma teammate and Under 23 time-trial champion Finn Fisher-Black, nine seconds faster than Gate.

"I was down and out a week ago and wrote myself off. I was a month behind last year and I was doing a workout on the time trial bike and I was not there. Then I had a really good TT on Friday and that picked me up quite a lot."

As a solo rider, Bennett sure it was an attritional affair, taking as many opportunities as possible to make the race hard before cracking the field towards the finish.

"I just kept going and kept going," said Bennett. "On every pinch, I just squeezed and squeezed them. That was what I tried to do to Aaron, because I knew he was the danger man. Then I just kept going and going until finally no one came with me."