Benchmark Round 7 and Series Wrap Up
The final round of the 2010 Benchmark Homes series took place in Oxford on the weekend, with a 141 km journey around the Cust and Ashley Gorge region.
The race started with a furious pace, and after 20km all but two of the woman had been dropped on the steep Summer Hill. This group however was quite large with several men included and our team members Sequoia Cooper and Beth Hamilton. Several breaks threatened in the main field with none sticking until the 60 km mark which Dillon Bennett managed to get in and started working hard gaining 1 min on the bunch. Unfortunately he became unhitched through the Ashley gorge which put our boys into action on the front.
The most pleasing aspects of the whole season was to see our whole team on the front chasing down the break, which they did with incredible speed. Lachie Shannon who normally fills the role of getting the bottles and taking them back through the bunch led this chase and everyone was present with no help from the other teams. Our plan for this particular race was to have someone in the breaks, but if not keep it together to take advantage of our three fast finishers, Presbury, Karwowski and Bulling.
Meanwhile back in the race our two women both punctured, unfortunately taking them out of contention in the women’s classification.
Coming back in towards Oxford and the 3 laps of the 6 km finishing circuit another small break got away, putting our guys into chase mode once again. One of the main objectives for the H and J Smith Outdoor World Team was to introduce them to team racing and teamwork, so seeing this in action was great stuff. The young team is still learning how to read breaks and which ones will stick etc which is such an important aspect of team riding and a skill they will continue to develop in 2011. Our team kept the strong break including u23 world champs member George Bennett, Series leaders, Josh Atkins and James McCoy and Subway’s Joe Cooper, within 30 sec for much of the last 20 km. This break started to disintegrate and left only 3 out front meaning our team still having a chance for 4th place. However as the boys found they were probably a bit toast from the hard work they had done to keep themselves in contention and with little support from the other teams. As the bunch came into the uphill finish about 30 sec after race winner George Bennett it was Presbury as our best placed finisher , taking 5th in the grovel bunch sprint and 8th overall. This was a great ride by Hamish who got all the bottles all day and was very active in the chases.
Hamish Presbury, our best placed rider of the day.
Overall this year was a great success for the team with 4 podium placing’s including a race win, several top ten results, a 5th placing on the team GC (from17 teams) and great racing for our young riders against quality opposition and they have learnt the value of team riding and team dynamics both on and off the bike. A huge thanks must go to John Green and Rob McNeil from H and J Smith and H and J Smith Outdoor World who have made these experiences possible for these riders. We are looking forward to next year and the introduction of more young Southland talent into the team.