CYCLING pundits are lining up to recognise former Port Macquarie rider Lauren Kitchen after a standout performance in the World Championships at Richmond, Virginia on the weekend.
Kitchen has received plenty of praise in the past couple of days, with everyone from former coach Kevin Fletcher to ex professional Henk Vogels commenting on the fantastic ride in the early hours of Sunday morning, Australian time.
She fell just short of a top 10 finish in the women’s elite road race, but Kitchen’s performance was still outstanding.
With 15 kilometres to go, Kitchen pounced to form a two-rider breakaway with Italian Valentina Scandolara - a rider she’s known since the juniors. The pair was caught with about 2km of the race to go, at the foot of the Libby Hill climb.
Earlier, Kitchen worked hard to work her way into a nine-strong group which include fellow Australian Rachel Neylan.
Kitchen finished the race in 28th, 46 seconds adrift of Great Britain’s Elizabeth Armitstead, but she was still proud of her efforts.
“I am glad I took my chance and went for it,” she said.
“I’m disappointed, of course, that it didn’t work out, but happy to try.”
Vogels, commentating on the race for SBS, said it was one of the best races he’d ever seen.
It was a tough course in the rain for the riders. They faced winding roads, cobblestoned sections and a quick descent.
The excitement was too much for Kitchen’s mother Robbi, who was watching on the couch at home.
She rang Kitchen’s brother Nicholas to wake him when a top 10 finish became possible.
Although that didn’t happen, Robbi Kitchen was still thrilled for her daughter.
“It’s very exciting,” she said.
Plenty of the close-knit Port Macquarie cycling passed on their congratulations.
They included Kitchen’s former coach an ex-Port Cycling Club president Kevin Fletcher, who nurtured her love of the sport from an early age.
“It was outstanding,” he said of his former charge’s ride.
“She’s had a fantastic season.”
Fletcher first worked with Kitchen in 2005 at the North Coast Academy of Sport’s talent identification program.
He was humble about his role Kitchen’s development.
“It’s the next level coaches that turn them into the outstanding cyclists,” Fletcher said.