Race two of the season was one that really tested the riders' mental strength.
First off, the change of advertised distance from 41km to 58km and for B-grade riders learning that the three A-grade riders would be riding with them. Bit of a mistake by race manager of the day (Oooop’s sorry about that one boys).
Weather wise a nice wee cross/head wind to contend with for a good part of the race added to hurt that was about to be inflicted on them.
Bang, off they went no time to snooze, a fast downhill tail wind to the first corner reaching 50kph + speeds. Early on the in form riders mixed it with the A-graders Matt Zenovich, Robert Huisman and Josh Haggerty. It wasn’t long before Huisman and Zenovich asserted their power and broke clear leaving the balance of riders in three groups. First Chase group Josh Haggerty, Neil Familton, Vaughan Edie, Geoff Van dam, Bruce Jones and youngster Anton O’Connell worked well together and only finished 1min 40sec down on the eventual winner Matt Zenovich. Neil out sprinted Josh and Geoff to take third place over the line and first B-grade.
Second chase group with new comer Jordan Gilmore (welcome to Southland), Aaron Sinclair, Matt Marshall, Jason Shields, Gabby Vermunt and Alan Strong finished a couple of minutes back and the balance rolled through soon after.
With Age Group Nationals on the horizon, it was one of the smallest fields seen in this grade for a long time with just eleven riders departing into the fold.
Unlike A/B-grade they stayed together and shared the work for most for the race, a wise choice given the conditions. Welcome along Aucklander Sharnee Schuurman, what an introduction to the Southland weather!
It wasn’t until the last 3-4km before thoughts of trying to win crept in. The pace dropped right off, with every one waiting to see who would make the first move. Relatively new rider Kirsty James was somewhat confused and decided to take the field on along with Grant Colburn opening up a small gap. Strongman Garry Perkins fought back to then in time to see Kirsty move clear and win her first race. Rest of the grade rolled through in the next 30sec.
1st Matt Zenovich 1:19:02
2nd Robert Huisman 1:19:12
3rd Josh Haggerty
1st Neil Familton 1:20:45,
2nd Geoff Van dam ST
3rd Vaughan Edie ST
4th Anton O’Connell
5th Bruce Jones
6th Jordan Gilmore
1st Kirsty James 1:23:50,
2nd Garry Perkins +2sec
3rd Grant Colburn ST
4th Marty Lohrey
5th Allan Milne
6th Shirlene Rollo
Photos courtesy of Robyn Edie / The Southland Times