Invercargill cyclist Stephen Keast broke clear of the field to convincingly win the 102km Murray McLeay Memorial road race on Saturday.
A small but dedicated field faced the starter in McQuarrie Street in relatively calm conditions in sharp contrast to the gale force winds that lashed the province the previous day. Ahead of them lay 102km of undulating terrain which would see the field race through Gorge Road, Titiroa, Waimahaka, Mataura Island and Seaward Downs before turning at Gorge Road for the return journey back to Invercargill. The limit bunches had been caught by Waimahaka and Alan Strong powered his way up the Letterbox Hill to take out the first of the two primes of the day in style.
The combined bunches continued to race well but the chasing groups were starting to make inroads into the leader’s advantage. Turning at Gorge Road, the bunches were in sight of each other and the second prime of the day, the Gorge Road Rise was taken out by Tony Hammington ahead of Makayla Smith. Through Waimatua, the second break bunch driven by Stephen Keast, Andrew Lienert and Jeff Rooney picked up the remainder of the front groups and the stage was set for a bunch sprint into the finish line in McQuarrie Street. However with less than 2kms remaining, Keast caught the bunch by surprise and attacked down the inside to open up a small advantage which he was able to maintain to the finish line and win by a 21 second margin. The intense bunch sprint for the minor placings saw Andrew Lienert narrowly edge out Magnus Tuxen Rosing for second place with Aaron Sinclair, Bruce Jones and Dave Beadle finishing close behind.
All attention then turned to the fastest time award with scratch rider Josh Haggerty riding solo for a large part of the journey following Tom Sexton’s withdraw from the race at Titiroa. Going over Letterbox Hill, Haggerty had lost 30 seconds on the break bunch which consisted of five riders and turning at Gorge Road Haggerty was 40 seconds down but a strong finishing burst saw Haggerty pick up time and take fastest time honours by a slender 19 second margin. An outstanding ride by Josh considering that he rode half of the journey solo. Matt Nunn from the break bunch also rode impressively to take second fastest time.
1 Stephen Keast Time: 2 hours 47 minutes 45 seconds
2 Andrew Lienert
3 Magnus Tuxen Rosing
4 Aaron Sinclair
5 Bruce Jones
6 Dave Beadle
1 Josh Haggerty Time: 2 hours 42 minutes 49 seconds
2 Matt Nunn Time: 2 hours 43 minutes 08 seconds
3 Jordan Gilmore Time: 2 hours 43 minutes 081 seconds
First Junior – Magnus Tuxen Rosing
First Female – Makayla Smith
Martin Verboek Trophy – Alan Strong
1 Alan Strong
2 Makayla Smith
Gorge Road Hill
1 Tony Hammington
2 Makayla Smith
Thanks go to the Volunteers on the day – Hamish Keast and Robin Criglington