The annual Hub Tour at Hawkes Bay was held over the last weekend just west of Napier. Whilst the elite National Road Championships are always on the same weekend, the Hub Tour draws just about anyone else who races, making it one of the hardest tours on the Calendar. Particularly so for the B and C grades, where the always good prize pool is keenly contested.
As usual, Bike Manawatu involvement was high, with nine riders in the Elite mens A grade, three in mens B grade, one in mens C grade, two in girls U17, and two in U17 boys, making BM the best represented clubs behind the hosting Ramblers club.
The race started on Friday evening with a 6.9 km prologue. Notable rides in this stage came from Campbell Stewart, Alex West, and Robert Stannard in this opening stage, all three finishing top 5, with Robert grabbing the yellow jersey by 1/100th of a second from Aaron Strong (Auckland). Carlos Lopez-Lozano also showed his class with a second placing in B grade, whilst Libby Arbuckle and Emily Shearman ran one/two in their race, separated only by one second.
The next day (Sat) comprised of two road stages rather than the usual afternoon criterium. Consequently it was a very long day; A grade having to race more than 180 km for the day. Robert Stannard grabbed third place in both the days stages to hang onto yellow, but only by two second from Jack Sowry (Auckland). In B grade, Carlos rode very well picking up numerous KOM points, and finishing top five in both stages. Meanwhile, Libby and Emily finished top three both stages to maintain their stranglehold on the U17 girls race. Notable rides from Dylan Simpson and Thomas Stannard in U17 boys just to compete against the much bigger 2nd year riders; Dylan finishing in the front group on both stages. Andrew McKenzie in B and Toshi Yamauchi in C also rode well.
By the start of day 3 (Sunday morning), the A grade field had been whittled down to 31 riders (from 45), notable riderswithdrawing including Gordon McCauley and Josh Page, who clearly found the pace a bit too hot. With what was the hilliest stage of the tour last, the chance for upsets and GC changes were high in all grades. In the end though, Libby and Emily were a class above most of the other riders finishing one and two, again with only a hair’s breadth between them. In the boys U17, both Dylan and Thomas rode well, but were at the mercy of the big boys, and in C grade, Toshi finished a creditable 37th in the largest grade where some of the better riders should arguably have been in B grade from the start. In B grade, Carlos used his hill climbing ability to move up the classification, takingsecond place overall and the KOM jersey by the end of the race. Andrew finished 7th and Fergus had to walk up the steep KOM hill after breaking his gear cable! In A grade, the BM riders worked hard to maintain their advantage, with Robert winning the yellow and tour ably assisted by the other BM boys, notably Winston Briggs in the first part of the stage. In the end, George Roberts capped off a strong tour by winning the final stage solo (riding off the front), Campbell and Robert coming second and third respectively. Nate Levin, Alex West, George, and Campbell all finished in the top eight. Jacob Sievwright turned a few heads with a top 15 finish in what was his first Open race.