Benchmark series Round 3 race report
Tomlinson on the Podium!
The third round of the Benchmark Series was held on Sunday starting from Hanmer Springs. However for the H & J Smith Cycling Team , hot pools or drug rehab was the furtherest thing from their mind as they set out to complete the first part of the season with a bang.
The team left on Friday minus Southland Young Sportsperson of the Year Cameron Karwowski who flew up to join them on Saturday. During this time the team had a warm up around the Short Bays circuit in Christchurch , encapturing some stunning views. Lachie Shannen was obviously admiring these a bit too much instead of the sharp right hander on the way down from the top and his view quickly shifted to that of disappearing over the guard rail and tumbling to a halt. Luckily not too much damage was done to our Super Domestique (workhorse) although probably enough damage to make his race on Sunday a tad uncomfortable.
The team stayed together in a holiday house in Hanmer which was on Saturday night was the scene of the first real competition of the weekend. The Connect Four Challenge! Who could have thought that a simple game could have turned into an intense battle, but that’s what happens when you put 10 fiercely competitive people together with some yellow and red round pieces ! Hot favourite for the match Hamish Tomlinson was left speechless when bundled out in the Semi Final stage by rookie Marcel Baird which then set up a final with rank outsider, at 50 to 1 odds Pieter Bulling! To be honest the concentration young Piet displayed in his Semi match was something to behold, and he carried this on in the final giving nothing away and forcing Marcel into a corner and coming up with a most impressive victory!!
Onto the race itself a 133 km slog from Hanmer to Kaikoura , going past Mt Lyford ski field toward the coast then finishing up a bluff like climb at Oceanridge estate. The H & J Outdoor World team were super active in the beginning but unfortunately missed the first main break of the day, they were then forced to be active again as a unit by having to chase it down, Much to the team managers displeasure when coming past a point where the team convoy was viewing to see them all chasing on the front. However they did a great job at this led and organised by Cam K.
Small groups continued to break away on the hilly terrain and come back when the relentless nature took its toll on the small groups. Hamish Tomlinson made several attempts to get across to these small groups, and looked strong on the climbs.
Sequoia Cooper tried valiantly with several other women to hold onto the hot pace by the men, lasting longer than most , however these women all joined up for most of the ride. Unfortunately in the later stages her, and I quote... “kilometre clock ran out!”
In the closing kilometres a strong break threatened to steal the race, containing Marc Ryan , Subway riders, and more but some great work by our own Hamish Presbury and the Benchmark team kept this in check to give Hamish Tomlinson every chance of a fine finish up the final hill. Obviously seeking retribution from the night before, he powered by the final Hill to take third place behind Josh Atkins and Taylor Gunman. An awesome result.
Pieter Bulling also had a great ride finishing 5th U23 (the first 3 were all U23 riders) , while rookie Marcel Baird came in just behind the front group and powered up the hill to be the 3rd cat 2 rider overall.
The overall team performance was excellent, everyone contributing to the first podium result and the team dynamic both on and off the bike is becoming very strong. In the first 3 rounds we have introduced 12 young Southland riders to the strongest team based cycling available in New Zealand and given them invaluable experiences off the bike also. We have had individual placings of 3rd, 4th, 7th and 9th and will now be 5th in the team standings from 14 teams.
We will look to carry this on in the second part of the season with it recommencing in August and hopeful of many more great performances. Check out www.roadcycling.co.nz for more on this series and make sure you look at some of the great photos from the weekend here on our website. Congratulations to the riders and thank you to all those that have helped out so far.
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