Rushlee Buchanan Sprints to Win New Zealand National Women’s Road Race Title
Christchurch, New Zealand – Rushlee Buchanan sprinted to victory to win the Calder Stewart Road Cycling Championships and claim the New Zealand National Women’s Road Race Titleon Saturday afternoon, January 10, 2014 (local time), in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 2012 London Olympian, 2010 Track World Championship medalist, and current member of the 2014 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team; led the majority of the eight-lap, 120km race and found enough gas in the tank to hold off the fierce competition at the finish on the grueling Cashmere Hills circuit en route to the win. It was Buchanan’s second national women’s road race title (her first title was in 2010).
Following the race, an emotional Buchanan commented on how she felt afterward.
“When I crossed the finish line, all of my emotions came to the surface at once,” she said. “I still can’t quite believe it. It is such a huge honor to win the national championships again. Wearing the silver fern for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team is without a doubt one of the biggest honors in my career.”
Buchanan also talked about how the race unfolded, her strategy and what helped propel her to victory.
“My tactic was to go early,” she said. “I knew I had the miles in my legs and I was prepared and ready for a long, hard day. So I attacked on Lap 2 and Jaime Nielson came with me. Lauren Ellis was out front already and Jaime and I then caught Lauren heading up the climb the next time around. The three of us all have similar strengths, as we are all track teammates in the Team Pursuit. So, we just focused on working well together and keeping it steady.”
Discussing the final moments of the 120km endeavor, Buchanan added, “With about 7km to go, I was able to gap Jaime up a rise and then had no choice but to push as hard as I could with every pedal stroke. The chasing group was gaining fast and with 4km to go, they cut the gap down to 17 seconds and in a headwind. I chose not to think about anything but pushing the pedals!”
And as the excitement for those watching continued to build, Buchanan recalled what it took for her to remain focused as she pushed for the win.
“With about 1km to go, Linda Villumsen broke away from the peloton and bridged the gap to me,” Buchanan continued. “When she passed me, I went somewhere in my mind and retrieved the small ounce of energy I had left hidden away. I just fixed my eyes on her front wheel and it was all I could do to stay with her through the final few turns.”
In one of her post-race interviews, Buchanan said, “I wasn’t thinking about the finish line until the last corner. I don’t know where I got that (burst) from, but I just had to put my head down and give it everything. Apparently I love to do it the hard way.”
“Coming into the finish straight, I was delirious and went into subconscious mode. Hearing my dad on the side of the road as I opened up my sprint gave me the final kick I needed. I couldn’t feel anything as I looked to the finish line and I didn’t know what was happening behind me. All that mattered was moving forward,” she concluded.