Rushlee Buchanan Wins New Zealand National Criterium Title
While much of the professional cycling community considers this period to be the road racing off-season, citizens of New Zealand have been honing their top-end speed in preparation for this week’s national championship criterium in Auckland. Current New Zealand national road champion Rushlee Buchanan set the tone for UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team in 2015 with an impressive sprint victory, earning the right to wear the national jersey in criterium events throughout the 2015 season. With the title on the line, the women’s pro field was deep and talented, bringing many former national champions and national track team members to the starting grid. The race was aggressive and technical throughout the 1.1-kilometer course thanks to tight corners and cobblestone sectors that required the riders’ undivided attention.
Buchanan commented, “I was bit nervous without any of my Blue Train teammates, but also confident in my speed coming from a lot of track training.” Buchanan succeeded in staying near the front of the aggressive field, where she was able to cover moves and watch the many attacks unfold throughout the race. Despite the numerous attacks, the field was all together rounding the final 180-degree turn before the finishing sprint. Buchanan was mindful of her placement coming into this critical part of the race, and exited the turn in third position, allowing her to unleash her powerful sprint in the drag race to the line. The training and instinct paid off as Buchanan powered around the remaining riders and sprinted to victory.
Buchanan’s victory brings the national criterium champion count to three heading into the 2015 season, with teammates Coryn Rivera and John Murphy holding the current titles for America. “I’m super happy to win for the team and to bring another national championship jersey to our already stellar lineup. Winning both the road and criterium nationals this year has certainly made it a good one! I’m looking forward to wearing the jersey with pride and racing it overseas for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team in 2015,” concluded Buchanan.