A solid contingent of green jerseys made it down to the bottom part of the South Island for the 2016 National Club Road Championships. For all but the Open and U23 riders, this is the pinnacle event of the NZ road calendar where selections for World Champs (junior and masters) are on the line. Not surprisingly, the competition and the standard of racing was very high, especially from the South Islanders, some of whom are “enigmas” who we hear about, but see rarely this side of Cook Straight.
Michael Groube led the team, firstly organizing transport of most of the (many) bikes and wheels, and driving them all the way down to the race. He was also in charge of team management and ensuring all riders were prepared for their races. Much thanks should go to Michael, without whom participation would have proven impossible for most.
Thursday the 21st was the individual time trial; 15 km for U17 and younger, and Masters 4 and older. The rest did 25 km. The course was fast for the first 5 km before a nasty little climb and some rollers. The longer course turned left and went up a very long false flat before turning around to a very fast second half. Those with the leg speed were rewarded with good times; the best of the BM riders being Robert Stannard who placed second in the U19 men.
The road races were held over the next three days starting with the U15s and U17s on the Friday. The course was on an undulating circuit with no long climbs, but little chance for recovery if the going got tough. The finish, however, consisted of a left turn off the main course up a climb which began steeply, but gradually leveled out and finishing after around 2 km from the turn.
The weather for race 4 of the series on Saturday afternoon looked particularly bad, at least at 11 am in the morning. The consistent showers were looking like dampening the ride and there were some calls to postpone. Experience, though, tells us that if you cancel a race because of the weather, the sun then comes out! The race organisers decided to keep to plan and start the ITT at Ashhurst on time at 1:30 pm. True to form, the rain stopped at 1:25 pm and the sun later came out. The dozen or so people who turned up for the TT were given fantastic conditions and some very fast times recorded. Robert Stannard recorded the fastest time over 24 km of 33:03 min, followed by Carne Groube on 34:24 and James Denholm on 35:42. Glen Kirk was looking good until his effort was thwarted by a flock of sheet, but and adjusted time of 53:52 gave him fourth. In the 15 km race, fastest was Emily Shearman on 24:38, followed by Michael Richmond on 28:28.
Next morning the last race (5) of the series at Linton was held. This was a kermesse around Linton Army Camp on some very fast hot mix roads. Grades C and D were combined into one race (15 min plus two laps). B grade completed 25 min plus two laps, and A grade rode 30 min plus three laps. In the C/D race, Ewan Cousins was first, Dra's Caldwell second, and Sam Russell placed third in a hard fought race which ended in an exciting group sprint. In a very strong and competitive B grade, the attacks around the circuit were thick and fast, with a number of riders tailing off as a result. Thomas Stannard used his smarts by attacking just before the final corner to easily win the sprint. He was followed by Michael and then Ethan Craine. In A grade, the smallest field of seven riders, it was out of the blocks. After just one lap Robert Stannard took a flyer which split the bunch wide open. Alex West and Campbell Stewart quickly got together to catch Robert, leaving the strongest three riders out front. The remaining riders, Steve Stannard, George Roberts, James Denholm, and Andrew McKenzie worked hard, but in vain, to catch the leading trio. In the end, Robert attacked his counterparts with a lap to go to seal the win, Alex was second across the line, and Campbell third.
The prize money pool has been decided and can be found here. Cheques will be written and distributed as soon as possible. If you have not yet helped out with a race but won prize money, you may be required to help in a future race before the prize money is paid to you. Much thanks should go to Glen Kirk for sponsoring the series.
Race 3 of the Autumn Road Race series was run under blue skies and an easterly wind at Halcombe last Saturday. With a better handle on the current ability of participating riders, it was a very close race in the end. A sizeable scratch bunch was split into two with the late arrival of Winston Briggs and James Denholm. 90 seconds between the two groups wasn’t enough though for them to get together a become a “train” which began mowing the earlier starters down. A start of 6:30 to block (second last group to start) was not enough to keep scratch at bay, with a big group of riders forming on the downwind section on Makino Rd on the second lap. Speeds of nearly 60 km saw some riders spun off the back. The group started to catch the earlier starting groups on the ups and downs along Tokorangi Rd, and attacks from some of the A grade riders saw George Roberts, Steve Stannard, and Alex West get away with only a few limit riders still in front. In the end, Alex managed a last ditch effort to catch Joe Caldwell right on the finish line to win the handicap, with Steve a few seconds back in third. A very gutsy ride from Dra’s Caldwell saw him finish fifth just behind George Roberts. Other notable rides were from Tom Pirie and Tom Stannard. Ewan Cousins continues to impress by mixing it with the “big boys” (and girls) and holding his own very well. In the one lap race for the young riders, Josh Mulchay was first across the line.
Thanks to Megan Blatchford-Peck for managing the race on the day, and also to the other helpers.
Organiser Rob Ryan and SPCA marketing manager Marty O'Fee both riding on this charity tour can be proud of the team of 20 local Bike Manawatu riders and their amazing support person when they banded together last week to tackle the 640k SPCA ride from Palmy to Akaroa and return home safely after five hard days having raised over $8000 for the SPCA.
The group trained hard over the summer and were farewelled by supporters on the 15th of March from the Bike Barn in two groups of 10 for safety reasons on the anticipated first leg of the journey in overcast windy weather soon after to turn to rain.Oh Joy.
On arrival in Wellington and after a pre arranged shower at the Wellington Intercontinental the group enjoyed a dinner out and a few shandies before boarding the BlueBridge Ferry to Picton that night departing at 2am.
Race report: Graded Handicap Saturday 5th March
The second of the Autumn race series was held on the Ashhurst-Highland Home (out and back) course last Saturday.
A total of 22 rides started the race, with the small A grade scratch group of Alex West and Steve Stannard leaving 19 minutes behind the limit (D Grade) group of Kyra Craine, Rosie O’Brien, and Jess Anniss,. C Grade was the second group to go at 7 min, then a large and strong B grade group at 14 min behind limit.
Conditions were good, but the hills took their toll on the lower grades, with many in C and D grades being caught before the turnaround on the 45 km course. The last rider to be caught by the fast finishing A-graders was Mervin Clark, who rode an strong race, mainly solo, being passed just before the turn back onto Pohangina Valley Rd.
Steve Stannard was first home and with the fastest time, just ahead of Alex West. Ethan Craine won the small bunch sprint for third, followed closely by Nigel Doyle and Chris Pinkney. Impressive rides from the girls in D grade to finish, and Ewan Cousins to be the first C grader home.
Thanks to race manager Mike Craine, Michael Groube for traffic management, and all the others who volunteered to help on the day.