Cycling: Jumbo-Visma rider George Bennett wins his first national title

Jumbo-Visma rider George Bennett has won his first national road cycling title, after attacking on the final hill of the day near Cambridge. 

After being gobbled up with victory in sight last year, New Zealand's best cyclist made his move with 10km to go and left behind a leading group of four other riders that included Michael Vink, Michael Torckler, Scotsman Mark Stewart and Ryan Christensen.  

The 30-year-old time-trialled to the finish to win comfortably and will take the New Zealand national jersey to the world's biggest cycling events. 

Coming into the contest, Bennett was up against the powerful Black Spokes team, which entered 15 riders, compared to Bennett and lone ally Finn Fisher-Black. 

Bennett was originally left behind by a large group of riders that went up the road, but Vink, Bennett and Aaron Gate bridged the gap the four-minute gap to place themselves back at the front of the race. 

The Blenheim rider attacked consistently on any hill he could find on the 174km course and his rivals finally cracked, as he rode away for his first victory at his 10th attempt. 

The Nelson native cruised to victory while Scotsman Stewart won a sprint finish to claim second spot on the podium. Michael Vink finished third but was disqualified from the podium for a dangerous finish meaning Michael Torckler finished in third.

"It's so special," Bennett says. "It was such a strange race and hard race, but in the final kilometres, I was thinking a lot about wearing the fern in Europe.

"I was absolutely on my knees but my two mates, Michael Vink and Aaron Gate worked so hard to close that big gap, but I didn’t know how I was going to win from there.

"I was running out of legs, but I was really thinking about wearing the fern and all the support that is out there, and representing New Zealand this year in all the big races. 

"The nationals isn't the biggest race on my calendar, but it is really important to me, especially when you win." 

In the women's race, Georgia Williams backed up her time-trial victory with victory in the road race. 

Williams outsprinted Kate McCarthy to win by 0.48s and claim her second road cycling title.