Sophie Williamson (H & J Smiths) had a good final winning hit out before she leaves next week to head to San Francisco in the United States to start a contract with women’s pro team Vanderkitten, as she won the third round of the Benchmark Homes Women's Elite Cycling Series on the challenging Hanmer to Kaikoura course on Saturday.
After a slow start to 2013 due to injury Williamson has had good recent results that were capped off today with a win in the 99 kilometre women’s race, beating Olympian and series leader Lauren Ellis (Benchmark Homes) in a very tight uphill sprint to the line.
“It wasn’t the ideal start to the year, but the form seems to be coming along alright and I’m really excited to be heading away (to the US) on Wednesday,” Williamson said.
Williamson, who said she was feeling good on the climbs all day, was part of a breakaway group of six riders that contested the final climb to the finish line that included Ellis, round one winner Sharlotte Lucas (Benchmark Homes) who is lying second in the series, Kerri-Anne Torkler (Soul Star Racing), Hayley Mercer (Benchmark Homes) and Laura Fairweather (Altherm Window Systems).
“Coming into the last 10 kilometres there were three Benchmark girls and they were just attacking one after the other and that made it pretty hard, but it worked out ok in the end all coming into the final climb all together and I was stoked to get the win,” she said.
Meanwhile, it was a satisfying ride with the reward of stepping on the podium for consistent Cycling Southland elite performer when Luke Macpherson finished third in the Elite Men's race - placing sixth overall in the Elite and U23 category.
But it was redemption today for Tom Hubbard from the Homestyle Cycling Team as he won the third round of the Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series, the 133 kilometre the Parry Field Lawyers-Ocean Ridge Classic.
Hubbard was second in the previous round last month in Nelson and had ‘sleepless nights’ thinking about the mistakes he made so was very keen to make amends on today’s challenging Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura course.
“The goal was to win everything today,” Hubbard said. “We really wanted to win the individual race, take both jerseys (the under 23 and elite jerseys), and win the teams award; to do it was great.”
Hubbard said the hilly nature of the course suited his young team and the team executed its plan just as they had discussed.
“It just went like we talked about. We wanted a get someone up the road to take the pressure off chasing and working and that’s exactly what happened,” he said.
After a number of attacks that didn’t stick young national under 17 representative Ben Johnstone from Hubbard’s Homestyle team joined L&M Racings Nick Lovegrove and Sean Finning (H&J Smiths) in a break that was only caught with just over 30 kilometres left of racing.
Homestyle then had Mitchell Podmore and Christchurch Boys High School student Adam Bull in the front bunch so were well positioned leading into the closing kilometres of racing.
“With Ben up the road I could just sit in the bunch and wait for the moment to launch something. We forced a selection on the hardest climb at about the 74 kilometre mark and then Mitchell and Adam looked after me well so I could save everything for the final climb to the finish line.”
Hubbard dropped James Early (Benchmark Homes), series leader Joe Chapman (L & M Group Racing) and round one winner Brad Evans (Fitlab) in the steep final 100 metres leading to the finish line to claim the win in two hours and fifty one minutes.
“Today really was about redemption for Nelson,” he said. “I was really disappointed about coming second there and wasn’t going to make the same mistakes again.”
Glen Rewi (Kiwi Style Bike Tours) had the best climbing legs on the final hill to grab a win in the 133 kilometre masters race from Team Thule Cycling team mates Brad McFarlane and Blair Suthridge and Warmup Cycling’s Darren Burns.
World Masters record holder on the track for the individual pursuit, Reon Park (Team Calder Stewart), had a brave solo breakaway attempt only caught in the last three kilometres by a chasing bunch of 18 riders that hit the final climb together.
Rewi was ‘ecstatic’ to get the win in an event he says he had been targeting all season on a course he really likes.
“I was really keen to do well in this race,” he said. “I’ve always liked this course but after Reon (Park) attacked and got away at the half way point I thought any chance of winning was over.”
Park had the misfortune of suffering a slow puncture over the closing kilometres and once he was reeled in and the leaders hit the bottom of the final climb Rewi said he ‘hit it hard’ saying it was ‘all or nothing’ with the finish line in sight.
“I managed to hold on to take the win so I’m very relived as its pits me back in contention overall.”
Rewi’s win moves him up to second overall behind overall masters leader Lee Johnstone (Warmup Cycling) who finished fourteenth, picking up a valuable two points to remain four points clear of Rewi , five ahead of Stuthridge and six ahead of Mark Spessot (Cycle World).
Johnstone keeps the 35 to 44 masters classification jersey while Stuthridge has taken the over 45 jersey off the shoulders of Spessot.
The series takes a break over the winter until resuming in Hokitika on the West Coast on 10 August.
Photos: Bruce Wilson Photography
Parry Field Ocean Ridge Classic elite men
1 Tom Hubbard Homestyle Under 23 2:51:29
2 James Early Benchmark Homes Elite +00:05
3 Joe Chapman L&M Group Racing Elite +00:06
4 Brad Evans Fitlab Under 23 +00:10
5 Grayson Napier Fitlab Under 23 +00:13
1 Glen Rewi Kiwi Style Bike Tours Master 35-44 3:02:27
2 Brad McFarlane Team Thule Cycling Master 35-44+00:05
3 Blair Stuthridge Team Thule Cycling Master 45+ +00:07
4 Darron Burns Warmup Cycling Team Master 45+ +00:09
5 David Rush Cycle World Master 45+ +00:10
1 Sophie Williamson H&J's Outdoor World Avanti 2:41:32
2 Lauren Ellis Benchmark Homes same time
3 Sharlotte Lucas Benchmark Homes +00:01
4 Kerri-Anne Torkler Soul Star Racing +00:02
5 Haley Mercer Benchmark Homes +00:21
For more information see www.eliteseries.co.nz