Record-breaking Le Race win for Christchurch cycling champion

A Kiwi cycling champion has broken the Le Race course record, claiming his third victory in the gruelling road race.
Michael Vink who also won in 2010 and 2013 returned with a vengeance on Saturday, winning the 100km Miles Continental Le Race cycle event between Christchurchs Cathedral Square and Akaroa, from a field of around 750 competitors.

He finished in just seconds over two-and-a-half hours, smashing the previous record of two hours and thirty-five minutes, set by Daniel Whitehouse in 2019.

Conditions were pretty good, and the record was on the cards, so I really pushed hard.

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He said mountain bike champion Anton Cooper provided some real resistance.

When I saw Anton, I thought that was me done, and he would win quite easily as Anton is so strong in the short, sharp climbs.

Le Race/Supplied
Michael Vink finished Le Race in a new record time.

Instead, Vink unexpectedly found himself on his own on one of the small descents on Summit Rd, and never looked back.

Anton must have lost his legs, and I just stuck to our plan and rode hard to the finish line.

The 29-year-old Christchurch rider had been competing in a virtual overseas Swift competition mere hours before the start.

That race started at 1.30am so only had a couple of hours sleep and hit the coffee machine pretty hard this morning.

Typical, isnt it? Im in great form and now there are no international races.

Le Race/Supplied
Michael Vink won his first Le race in 2010, at just 17 years old.

Vink won his first Le Race as a 17-year-old in 2010, and said it was pretty cool to win it again all these years later.

In the womens race, Kate McIlroy defended her Le Race title after vowing that the 2019 race would be her last hurrah.

The former Olympic and Commonwealth track athlete, triathlete and cyclist, won the 2019 race in a record time to avenge her unexpected loss in 2018.

This year I hadnt really planned to race here, but I was in Christchurch, so I thought why not?

McIlroy said she was still wondering why she had signed up on the starting line, as she had not been riding her road bike lately.

Le Race/Supplied
Le Race womens winner Kate McIlroy.

I competed a three-day mountain-bike event last week and had a pretty easy week, so it shows that the fitness does cross over.

The 39-year-old said that this year was extremely competitive because many riders are not able to join their professional teams overseas due to travel restrictions.

McIloy said her plan to break up her competitors on the famous steep climb to the Hilltop Tavern worked a treat.

After that, I was cramping up but was holding on for dear life, until I got to the final descent into Akaroa.


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