Date: Monday, 03 April 2017

Southland cyclist Luke Macpherson has made a successful shift into the masters ranks.

He was an impressive overall masters winner in the Armstrong Prestige Dunedin Classic as part of the second round of the Calder Stewart Racing Series, held at Outram on Saturday.

Riding in the masters section for the first time after tasting success in the elite racing, Macpherson was an impressive overall winner, outsprinting breakaway companion and fellow 35 to 44 classification rider Yancy Arrington, who retained the 35 to 44 classification series lead, to win the overall masters 109 kilometre race in two hours and forty three minutes.

"It was a hard day out there after a frantic start, especially after I found myself caught up in a crash in the first three kilometres, so I had to burn a few matches to get back to the bunch," Macpherson said.

"Then it was all on until we managed to force a break, about 50 or 60 kilometres into the race, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of strong team-mates with me and we managed to get a gap and hold that all the way, so I was really stoked to get the win."

Meanwhile, Kate McIIroy won her first race as an elite cyclist while Paul Odlin crossed the line first in the elite men's race of the second round of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series, the Armstrong Prestige Dunedin Classic.

Former mountain running world champion, McIlroy, who represented New Zealand at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in the steeplechase before turning her attention to triathlon where she was 10th at the London Olympics, raced for New Zealand at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games before turning her back on the international triathlon circuit last year.

Although she has made the podium several times this year, she was "pretty rapt" to finally make the top step in an elite women's cycle race. 

McIIroy beat former cross country runner turned cyclist, Deborah Paine from Tauranga, to win in three hours and six minutes while Hokitika's Sharlotte Lucas, who raced feeling the effects of a head cold, finished two minutes further back to claim third.

Her win saw her take the series leader's jersey off Wanaka's Mikayla Harvey who was fourth, while Paine retained the series Queen of the Mountain hill climbers jersey. 

At 38, Christchurch cycle coach Odlin was the second oldest in the elite men's field, making him eligible to ride in the masters race, but he turned back the clock to take his first victory in the series for a number of years, winning the 134 kilometre race in three hours and fourteen minutes.

There were a number of attacks in the elite men's race on the flat circuits with nothing sticking until 13 riders that featured all the favourites got away on the third of the four laps of a 31-kilometre circuit.

The leaders starting attacking each other on the fourth lap which saw Ben Robertson and Matt Zenovich escape, but could only build a lead of one minute as the race approached the days key 14 kilometre climb up Lee Stream Valley.

A crash approaching Outram shattered the field and the two leaders were reeled in on the lower slopes of the climb before a group of fifteen moved clear of the field. Odlin made his winning move on one of the steeper pitches of the hill with about eight kilometres left to race.

Alex West made a late effort to bridge across to Odlin in the closing three kilometres, closing to within 30 seconds to claim second, just holding off Jake Marryatt, who built on his U23 series lead, who was third. Southland's Corbin Strong claimed the series U19 lead.

Caption: Southland's Luke MacPherson won the overall masters race in the second round of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series, the Armstrong Prestige Dunedin Classic.

Photo courtesy Rick O'Shay, article courtesy Stuff

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