Benchmark Homes Series Round 2 Race report.
The H & J Smith Outdoor World Cycling Team have just returned from the second weekend away with another two great races and results under their belt. This time the team ventured to Hokitika to compete in the Around Brunner Cycle Race on the Saturday and the Benchmark race on Sunday in Hokitika.
An 8 am start and a 30 min drive meant a very early departure for the team of Hamish Presbury, Hamish Tomlinson, Dillon Bennett, Brehan Cairns , Pieter Bulling, Lachlan Shannen & Sequoia Cooper. The race was 131 km over some rolling terrain but still conditions meant a bunch sprint was going to be most likely. Our race plan was to put someone in an early break but if this came back put Pieter Bulling in a great position for a sprint finish which we backed him to deliver ( a big ask for a young man).
The race panned out perfectly for the guys, with Sequoia having some bad luck on the one way road rail bridge meant she lost contact from the elite bunch but had a good ride with other women and the leading recreational riders.
After about 40 km, Prez managed to get in a great break with Gordon Maccauley, Tom Findlay and Tom Hubbard. This break worked well but without a couple of big teams in it, eg Bici Vida and Benchmark missing it they chased super hard to keep the gap at a manageable time. Once the break hit some small climbs with 35 km to go it lost impetus and was reeled in. However with Prez up the road it meant our riders were kept relatively fresh so once reeled in they got to work to put Piet in ideal position before the end. Lachie, Dillon, Brehan and Hamish T, did a great job at this over the closing kilometres before Piet unleashed a great sprint down Mawhera Quay in Greymouth to take third place behind Shane Archibald and National Points series leader Matthew Gorter. The job the team did for this result was outstanding and for Pieter to deliver under a fair amount of pressure showed the class and potential he has.
Below are some great photos shot by Lachlan Boyle of the race.
At the start line
The break lead by Tom Findlay
Prez in the break
Pieter in the sprint finish
The Beachfront Hotel 136 km Benchmark race on the Sunday was held over an interesting , undulating course. It also had a long flat section but again still conditions meant the race would be decided by the hills rather than crosswinds which is often the case on the West Coast. Dillon managed to get himself in a great early break which contained riders from most of the big teams, including Macauley, Findlay, Marc Ryan, Will Bowman, and Scott Lyttle but this group did not cooperate and was eventually reeled back in. Meanwhile Brehan had bad luck breaking a spoke while the bunch was in excess of 50 km and with no motor pacing being enforced getting back to the bunch was impossible. He did drop back to a large group including several women and Sequoia, Gabby and Laura Thompson, and paced them along to the finish. Hamish Tomlinson, Lachie and Dillon did a great job chasing other threatening breaks over the next 40 km however the split of 4 riders that stuck occurred with 35 km to go and didn’t contain one of our riders, Prez was obviously feeling slightly flat after his efforts the previous day and rightly so.
After some strong chasing it was decided to once again back our track riders for a sprint, with Pieter again getting himself (with great help once again) into a top spot and producing a great finish to finish 3rd in the bunch sprint and 7th overall in the race. This race was dynamic and provided some great learning opportunities for the riders. With no radio communication back to the team car it means riders have to assess and act on situations as they see it. This is a big part of what this team is about and after two rounds having 3 top 10 finishers and a 3rd and 8th in the support races they are doing extremely well for such a young group.
The next round and last before the Winter break is from Hamner to Kaikoura on May 9th we should have our strongest team yet with Cam Karwowski hopefully back on deck. For more photos from this race please view www.cyclingphotos.co.nz
Thanks to Max Presbury for his work on this trip and to the Bennett and Hamilton households for billeting the riders on the weekend. Your hospitality was greatly appreciated.
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