Perfect racing conditions greeted the competitors in the first race of the day - the B grade and U17 races, which were run over 5 and 2 laps respectively of the 12.5km circuit.
The circuit featured approximately 6kms of gravel per lap, meaning it would be a test of both bikes and rider, and would certainly ensure a worth winner at the end of the race.
The B Grade race stayed together for the most part of the race, with small gaps opening on the gravel section which were easily closed on the tar seal.
With 2 laps to go, time trial specialist Derek Tan seized an opportunity to ride off the front of the peloton and quickly established a lead which hovered near the 1 minute mark for the remainder of the race. The bunch couldn’t organise an effective chase with youngsters Tom Sexton, Hamish Beadle and Brayden Stephens starting the last lap together just in front of the weary peloton.
At the end of the 65kilometre race, Tan had held on and extended his lead to 1 minute 20, from a fast finishing Beadle and Sexton, with Stephens in 4th.
1st Derek Tan 64.5kms in 1h46.17
2nd Hamish Beadle @1:23
3rd Tom Sexton @ST
4th Brayden Stephens @1:36
5th Rikki Griffin @1:43
6th Geoff van Dam @ST
7th Jeff Rooney @ST
8th Sequioa Cooper (1st Woman) @ST
9th Hamish Presbury @ST
10th Stu Fleming @ST
A small group of under 17’s tackled 2 laps of the course and resulted in a group sprint to the line with no rider able to escape on the gravel. With Sam Miller and Matt Nunn driving the group along, Josh Carpenter had the most left in the sprint to take the win from Miller and Nunn.
1st Josh Carpenter 27kms in 52:18
2nd Sam Miller @ST
3rd Matt Nunn @ST
Starting 2 hours after the support races, the A grade riders had to contend with an increasing wind and the threat of rain. However, thankfully it stayed dry but with the wind and gravel sections the race soon started to split up.
The race distance of 89kms seemed to be no issue for the strong lead group of 6 riders that quickly established themselves at the head of affairs. Lapping the 12.5km circuit consistently around 18 minutes, the race was run at a fast pace and the wearing down process would ensure that a strong rider took the win.
The lead group of Josh Haggerty, Luke Macpherson, James Williamson, Brad Evans, Tim Rush and Rob Huisman worked well together to share the workload and they were never to be seen by the remainder of the field again. Haggerty punctured around mid-distance but was able to get back to the leaders after a speedy wheel change by neutral service Paul Sexton. However, the pace lifted again in the final 2 laps and Haggerty was obviously struggling, whilst the other riders were relishing the challenging course.
With approximately 4kms remaining, and part way along the final gravel section, Macpherson attacked and built a lead of 11 seconds. He held on to this lead as the chasers looked at each other, no one wanting to commit and possibly waste energy before the final sprint to the line, in the hope of lifting the winners cheque of $1000.
The pairing of James Williamson, fresh home from a season racing in the UK and Brad Evans went handlebar to handle bar and unleashed their sprint 300metres from the line with Williamson accelerating the whole way to the line, just catching Macpherson in time to become the second winner of the Bunty Hewitt Memorial is stylish fashion.
1st James Williamson 89kms in 2h18.10
2nd Luke Macpherson @ST
3rd Brad Evans @ST
4th Rob Huisman @5s
5th Tim Rush @13s
The organisers, Jerard Stock and Stu MacDonald would like to thank the team at Cycle Surgery Invercargill for their generous support of this event, Paul Clark and his team at Zookeepers for hosting the prize giving, Mike and Tania White of Vital Signs for the use of the wheel van, Liz Anderson for signing on duties, Paul Sexton and Kurt Black for neutral service, plus marshalls Linda Partridge, Jos Beadle, Jo Stephens, Caleb Hope, Fabian Wybrow, Mark Day and the ever faithful STMS Lindsay Tait-Jones.