Twenty-year-old professional James Fouche showed a glimpse of his outstanding potential when he cleared out from a select group to claim the overall honours in the men’s road race at the Vantage Elite and Under 23 Road National Championships in Napier on Sunday.
Fouche, who has been re-signed with UCI continental Team Wiggins in UK, animated the race from the get-go, finally attacking on the infamous Napier Hill climb with two and a half laps of the city circuit remaining and from there he soloed to the overall honours in 4:01:02 for the 166km race.
He defended his men’s under-23 crown that he won last year, and with it the New
World Tour rider Tom Scully (EF Education First), who had been a key driver of the early break that proved so decisive, claimed the elite title, after the chasers fell three minutes behind the winner.
Fouche and Scully were key players in the break that went early on the first of two rural loops, with the 12-strong group working well to force the pivotal move of the race.
“It was a long day out there but I was impressed that the group were motivated and all committed to the break and took it to the rest,” said Scully. “I told them to work hard for 10 minutes to establish the break and from there it worked well.
“James was very impressive and it shows good signs for the future. It was incredible when James went on the climb and put the sword in. It was too much for me. He is an impressive, strong young rider.”
Once back into the nine laps of the inner-city course that included the climb of Napier Hill, the group gradually whittled down until two-time champion Joe Cooper attacked on the third-to-last time up the climb. Fouche countered Cooper’s attack and opened a 28-second buffer by the time he reached the start-finish with two laps remaining. While Scully pushed hard initially to close the gap, the young Aucklander went into cruise mode to win comfortably.
“I am thankful that Team Wiggins has re-signed me and it is cool to be able to thank them by taking the national jersey back to race for them this year,” said Fouche.
“I thought the key for me was to get an early break because I am not one of the best on the climbs. It worked out really well although I was sceptical to go with three laps left but I just went with it.
“I thought it would be a tester and I was surprised to open up the lead. I was not sure I could hold it. I’ve been doing quite a bit of training on the hills so I guess it paid off today and the race played into my hands.”
Scully took out the elite honours a minute ahead of fellow World Tour rider and time trial winner Patrick Bevin (Team CCC) with his fellow Waikato teammate Hayden McCormick third in the sprint ahead of world-ranked top-50 professional George Bennett.
Fouche led the under-23 podium ahead of Otago’s Kees Duyvesteyn, who finished second overall, and Manawatu’s Joel Yates, riding for Team Skoda Fruzio.
Paul Wright won the King of the Mountain and Alex West the sprint jersey.
Results, Vantage Road Race, 166kms:
Under-23: James Fouche (Team Wiggins, Auckland) 4:01:02, 1; Kees Duyvesteyn (Otago) at 3:15, 2; Joel Yates (Skoda Fruzio, Manawatu) at 3:16, 3; Paul Wright (Southland) at 6:02, 4; Ben Hamilton (Auckland) at 9:41, 5.
Elite: Tom Scully (EF Education First, Southland) 4:04:17, 1; Patrick Bevin (Team CCC, Waikato BOP) at 56sec, 2; Hayden McCormick (Mobius BridgeLane, Waikato BOP) same time, 3; George Bennett (Team Jumbo-Visma, Nelson) same time, 4; James Oram (Skoda Fruzio, Auckland) at 1:05, 5.
|2||Kees Duyvesteyn||U23||Cycling Otago||+3.14|
|3||Tom Scully||Elite||Cycling Southland||ST|
|4||Joel Yates||U23||Team Skoda Fruzio||+3.15|
|5||Patrick Bevin||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty||+4.11|
|6||Hayden McCormick||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty||ST|
|8||James Oram||Elite||Team Skoda Fruzio||+4.19|
|10||Paul Wright||U23||Cycling Southland||+6.02|
|15||Michael Torckler||Elite||GD Pringle Building/Spoken Cycles||+10.35|
|17||Ben Oliver||Elite||Team Skoda Fruzio||+11.59|
|18||Luke Mudgway||Elite||East Coast North Island||+12.17|
|19||Ryan Christensen||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty||ST|
|20||Frank Sutton||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty||+12.18|
|21||Matias Fitzwater||U23||Waikato Bay of Plenty||ST|
|22||Carne Groube||U23||West Coast North Island||ST|
|24||Brad Jones||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty||+12.30|
|25||Corbin Strong||U23||Cycling Southland||+13.04|
|26||Madi Hartley-Brown||U23||West Coast North Island||ST|
|DNF||Alex West||U23||Team Skoda Fruzio|
|DNF||Matthew Webb-Smith||Elite||Tank Guy Bikebox|
|DNF||Glenn Haden||Elite||Tank Guy Bikebox|
|DNF||Toby Atkins||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty|
|DNF||Maxwell Wickens||U23||NextGEN Racing|
|DNF||Alex Heaney||Elite||GD Pringle Building/Spoken Cycles|
|DNF||Steve Nicholls||Elite||Tank Guy Bikebox|
|DNF||Jayden Kuijpers||U23||Team Skoda Fruzio|
|DNF||Taylor Johnston||U23||Tank Guy Bikebox|
|DNF||Nicholas Magill||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty|
|DNF||Aaron Wyllie||U23||Team Skoda Fruzio|
|DNF||Callum Gordon||Elite||East Coast North Island|
|DNF||Logan Griffin||Elite||GD Pringle Building/Spoken Cycles|
|DNF||Sam Gaze||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty|
|DNF||Henry Levett||U23||NextGEN Racing|
|DNF||Campbell Pithie||U23||Contract Consultants Cycle Surgery|
|DNF||Liam Cappel||U23||GD Pringle Building/Spoken Cycles|
|DNF||Jack Walsh||U23||Contract Consultants Cycle Surgery|
|DNF||William Green||Elite||Tank Guy Bikebox|
|DNF||Dylan Kennett||Elite||Waikato Bay of Plenty|
|DNF||Burnie McGrath||U23||Waikato Bay of Plenty|
|DNF||James Harvey||Elite||GD Pringle Building/Spoken Cycles|
|DNF||Josh Page||Elite||Tank Guy Bikebox|
|DNF||Greg Taylor||Elite||NextGEN Racing|
|DNF||Vaughn Pretorius||Elite||NextGEN Racing|
|DNF||Ben Cannon||Elite||Contract Consultants Cycle Surgery|
|DNF||Matthew Frecklington||Elite||Tank Guy Bikebox|
|DNF||Winston Briggs||Elite||West Coast North Island|
|DNF||Sam Dobbs||U23||GD Pringle Building/Spoken Cycles|
|DNF||Thomas Stannard||U23||West Coast North Island|
|DNF||Nicholas Thornley||U23||Contract Consultants Cycle Surgery|
|DNF||John Wansink||U23||Cycling Otago|
|DNF||Ioan Fuller||U23||Cycling Otago|
|DNF||Luke Shaw||U23||East Coast North Island|
|DNF||Toby Fuller||U23||NextGEN Racing|