Henrietta Christie capped off an outstanding Santos Tour Down Under by winning the young rider’s classification and racing into the lead of the Women’s World Tour Youth Ranking.
The rest of the team protected the 20-year-old valiantly throughout the stage with Christie riding impressively on the Corkscrew Road climb to stay with the group of chasing favorites.
With a two-rider breakaway contesting the win, the New Zealander then sprinted to seventh on the stage from a second group, placing ahead of classification rivals Ella Wyllie (New Zealand) and Abi Smith (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) to secure the two jerseys.
“It’s pretty surreal still and I think I’ll be pinching myself for a few more hours,” Christie beamed afterward. “To have the blue UCI jersey too is a bit phenomenal and I think will take a little longer to process.”
As well as the jersey, Christie also finished seventh overall with Nina Buijsman 13th. Helped throughout the week by Pikulik, Kaia Schmid, Lily Williams and Cypriot champion Antri Christoforou, Christie was quick to heap praise on her teammates.
Henrietta Christie shares a message with all our fans and the #HumanPoweredHealth family + a really big plate.
— Human Powered Health (@HumanPwrdHealth) January 17, 2023
“It was so special to have the team protecting Nina and me today,” she said. “They protected us so well going into the Corkscrew which was so great to see and meant we could race up at the top.”
The benefits gained from gym sessions and training rides with a total elevation topping out at 3,000 meters as detailed in the race preview, were on full show as the Christchurch native danced up the 2.4km long at 9.1% Corkscrew Road climb.
She once again benefited from the extreme level of detailed data that women’s team performance manager Kenny Latomme was able to program into her Wahoo ELEMNT Roam, illuminating the challenges ahead.
“I really studied that climb because I knew it would come down to it,” Christie explained of her process. “That way I knew ‘just one more bend and it flattens off and then it’s just 500 meters to the top’ so I just pushed and pushed until I got to the top and then it was downhill home. It was really great to have SYSTM running today.”
A new experience for Christie at Women’s WorldTour level, she also had to stay on top of her nerves to remain in a racing mindset.
“I had quite a lot of nerves but I was so grateful to have a really great team around me who encouraged me to enjoy it and take pride in the fact that I was wearing it for the day,” she says. “For me, that was massive motivation to have all that support.”
The result brings a close to a successful four days in Australia that saw Buijsman sprint to third in the Schwalbe Classic curtain raiser, Daria Pikulik win the opening stage of the Tour Down Under and Buijsman finish third on stage 2.
The women’s squad will aim to build on this opening race success in the Southern Hemisphere at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race before races in Spain, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates.
Young rider’s classification standings
1 CHRISTIE Henrietta – Human Powered Health 8:04:04
2 WYLLIE Ella – New Zealand ”
3 SMITH Abi – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB ”
4 WOLLASTON Ally – New Zealand 3:22
5 SCHMID Kaia – Human Powered Health ”
Women’s WorldTour Youth Ranking
1 CHRISTIE Henrietta – Human Powered Health 6 points
2 WYLLIE Ella – Lifeplus Wahoo 5
3 SMITH Abi – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 2
Santos Tour Down Under stage 3 result
1 BROWN Grace – FDJ – SUEZ 2:37:11
2 SPRATT Amanda – Trek – Segafredo ”
3 WILLIAMS Georgia – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:13
4 DE FRANCESCO Danielle – Zaaf Cycling Team ”
5 ROSEMAN-GANNON Ruby – Team Jayco AlUla ”
6 NEYLAN Rachel – UniSA-Australia ”
7 CHRISTIE Henrietta – Human Powered Health ”
8 STEELS Claire – Israel Premier Tech Roland ”
9 DOEBEL-HICKOK Krista – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB ”
10 WYLLIE Ella – New Zealand ”