After several weeks of atrocious weather, Saturday dawned fine and sunny ... and with $2k of prize-money up for grabs, 84kms of racing with plenty of gravel (a true ‘Southern Man’ version of the Belgium Classics), some of the New Zealand’s finest sporting stars and lots of Southland’s local heroes, the scene was most definitely set for a very special day of racing ... there is no doubt that the legendary Bunty Hewitt was remembered in the finest possible style!
On the first of the two loops of the larger 32km circuit in the race the bunch stayed mainly together, but with pressure coming on in the 2nd lap of the circuit, cracks began to show and heading into the final two smaller circuits, the front bunch was whittled down to six riders - Josh Haggerty, Tom Scully, Vaughan Edie, Shane Archbold, Brad Tuhi and Cam Karwowski, with Geoff van Dam puncturing at an unfortunate time and missing the front group after a good show of strength in the opening stages of the race.
With the pace on in the final lap, the finale saw a late attack by Scully, reeling in Archbold in the closing stages, to take out the win on the line, Cam Karwowski leading in the following bunch for 3rd, all three boys recently returned from their European /Olympic racing programmes and looking like they have great form heading into the PowerNet Tour of Southland. Tuhi, challenging all the way to the line, came in a creditable 4th, and in 5th and 6th, in truly excellent displays of strength, were Haggerty and Edie.
With the front bunch in, the race was on for the minor placings in the Weekend Warrior (non-tour rider) section (Haggerty and Edie already taking out 1st and 2nd in this grade). Strong man Wayne Miller was next rider in to take out 3rd, heading in Derek Tan, with Neil Familton, Nick Kergozou, Ant Leathart, James Archbold and Georgia Timpany rounding out the top 10.
The general consensus from this year’s participants is that the Bunty Hewitt Memorial is set to become a legendary race on the Cycling Southland calendar, Scully declaring that it is a perfect pre-tour opener and that the race was excellent recognition of what the Hewitt Family have done for cycling in Southland ... and long may it continue!
Melva, Brent and Murray Hewitt were enthusiastic spectators at the race, and proudly presented the winnings at the prizegiving at Zookeepers, held in conjunction with the Riverton to Zookeepers Mountain Bike and Multisport race prizegiving, and all up, it was an excellent end to a fantastic day of sport. To top it all off, George Thomson (3) declared it was a pretty awesome day, and that his favourite part was the paper-scissors-rock with Novie and waving the finish flag.
Huge thank you to sponsors Zookeepers and Cycle Surgery – Paul Clark, Glen, Al and Roly - you’re legends! Thanks also to everyone who helped on the day – much appreciated and we couldn’t have run it without you.
1 Tom Scully 2:13:43
2 Shane Archbold S.T
3 Cameron Karwowski S.T
4 Brad Tuhi S.T
5 Josh Haggerty S.T
6 Vaughan Edie S.T
7 Wayne Miller @ 7.20
8 Derek Tan @ 7.21
9 Neil Familton @ 10.07
10 Nick Kergozou @ 15.03
Georgia Timpany @ 19.17