Hot and windy weather welcomed the 41 riders to the start of the new road season. A last minute change of location to the Te Tipua circuit wasn’t the easiest race to start the season off. For those who faced the challenge, they showed some good form this early in the year.
A small A-grade field (8 riders) took off at a furious pace! It wasn’t long before the field was reduced to three riders (Matt Zeno, Luke MacPherson and Robert Huisman).
They attacked each other for 20-25km until it was decided in the sprint finish with Matt lunging to pip Luke on the line.
B-grade was a similar story from the gun, the majority of the field stayed together until the first of the big hills.
Geoff Van Dam attacked hard turning towards the hill and had a lot of people gasping.
Patience paid off for the remaining riders as they worked together to drag him back in.
Half way in Andrew Lienert tried again to get away and had a good break on the field before the likes of Bruce Jones, Stu MacDonald and Neil Familton got things going to chase him down.
A big turn on the front from youngster Alistair Green in the homeward stretch showed he has some good form.
The bunch sprint finish was as tight as A-grade with Neil Familton out lunging Stu MacDonald.
C-grade didn’t start out as hard as previous grades but it wasn’t long before things got serious which made for a tough introduction for newcomers Kirsty James, Andrew Burns and Janet Hodgetts.
The field was pretty much together through the first hill climb - tough luck Sophie McMurdo who had mechanical issues early on. Three quarters into the first lap some of the not so strong climbers drifted off the back.
There was still a strong group of ten riders who shared the work pretty much for the rest of the distance. Alan Milne had his customary attack and did have a small break that lasted for a couple of kilometres.
The finish sprint was down to 7-8 riders and Tim Maynard had too much power and won by a couple of bike lengths.
Another hard luck story for Marty Lohrey who punctured 4km from the end (said he may have won it if he hadn’t) with good rides from youngster Will Sutherland and new boy Andrew Burns.
1st Matt Zenovich 1:16:21, 2nd Luke MacPherson ST, 3rd Robert Huisman ST, 4th Logan Havenaar 1:24:00, 5th Simon Croom 1:24:05, 6th Vaughan Edie 1:25:45
1st Neil Familton 1:23:45, 2nd Stu MacDonald ST, 3rd Geoff Van Dam ST, 4th Andrew Lienert 1:23:50, 5th Shane Fletcher 1:23:55, 6th Bruce Jones ST
1st Tim Maynard 1:28:50, 2nd Andrew Burns 1:28:53, 3rd Allan Milne 1:28:57, 4th Will Sutherland ST, 5th Max Anderson 1: 30:10, 6th Shirlene Rolo 1:30:11
Report by Waine Harding
Photos by Robyn Edie, The Southland Times