Cameron Karwowski has given H & J Smith Outdoor World its first win in the Benchmark Series after an impressive display of riding in yesterdays 141 km slog around the Ashley Gorge in Christchurch.
After podium placing’s in the last two rounds from Hamish Tomlinson and Sequoia Cooper, the team decided this round was the race to make an even stronger statement.
A fine weekend was a relief for our team coming from such an awful week last week, and Sunday race dawned with a breezy but warm 20 degrees. On the start line the wind was mild but this was to change, dramatically. As the 100 riders headed across the Ashley Gorge several were blown from their bike, including our own Sequoia Cooper. This caused several splits in the race as they contended with a 5 km severe crosswind section, it certainly was entertaining from the team car. Dillon Bennett saw this as a great opportunity for an attack and took off with Josh Atkins and another rider to create a good gap. The next major point in the race came at the 48 km mark as a 1.7 km unsealed crosswind section caused more major split and carnage. Our team rode this brilliantly and by the end of this we had three riders, Dillon, Cam and Hamish Presbury in the front selection, with all the others in the second main pack and riding well, until Marcel Baird caught some wind, then the tarmac before ending up in the race Doctors vehicle, thankfully with only minor abrasions. Sequoia by this stage had gained contact with all the leading women again and put herself back in contention.
After approx 80 km Cam initiated a 5 rider split off the front of the first group, these 5 worked hard and quickly had 1 min on the remaining 17 riders . Meanwhile Dillon unfortunately snapped a gear cable and with the 65 kph hour required in the tail wind his 52 x 18 gear wasn’t enough and caused him to slip back, 2 bike changes later he decided to call it a day with Yunca tour in Mind this weekend.
Cam, Alex McGregor and Tom Hubbard drove the break as the two Benchmark riders began to “sit on” as they had series leaders, Josh Atkins and James McCoy back in the main front group. Three riders attempted getting across to this group late in the race however the lead the 5 had established was too great meaning a sprint for the line was likely. The two Benchmark riders had the upper hand in this situation however Cam managed to contain them well and won the downhill sprint in a convincing fashion from Daniel Barry of Benchmark and Ultimo’s Tom Hubbard. Several minutes later sequoia sprinted to second from what was left of the women in the race and her second podium in a row.
Another fine effort from all involved and great for Cam to get a win after so many near misses with his recent European campaign . The last round of the series is again based out of Christchurch on October 16th where the team will be looking to finish their first season on a high. Thanks to Rob McNeil for accompanying us this weekend, the Outdoor World support is invaluable for the development of these young Southland riders.