A concerted effort by Bike Manawatu riders across the grades saw the club wrestle the interclub trophy away from Whanganui on Saturday at Halcombe.
Many had thought the points differential was unassailable but that was not to be the case when 78 riders from both clubs contested a 23km circuit around Halcombe – Lethbridge – Makino – Stanway Road in sunny but cool conditions. First away were the A graders who were required to complete three laps of course.
Of the ten who started only five finished with Mark Waterland, Luuk van Wagtendonk, and Matiu Kaihau taking out the first three placings respectively. According to Matiu Kaihau, “Mark Waterland deserved the win given he did the most work and constantly attacked throughout the race”. A larger field of 16 riders started off in the B grade who were required only to complete two laps. The pressure was on from the start and the competition between the two clubs was obvious. In a sprint finish Steve Cowan (Whanganui) managed to take line honours from his team mate Bevan Cheatley and just behind him was Kevin Laskey (Bike Manawatu). The biggest field was in the C grade where 33 riders were required to complete two laps. Ross Castle (Bike Manawatu) really put the pressure on throughout the race attacking frequently with his strong surges. However, it was the Whanganui riders who appeared more organised and they were constantly looking for opportunities to get a small nucleus of Wanganui riders away. Any break by either team was quickly shut down. Josh Kendall and Chris Denholm made a sizeable break on Mangaone Hill during the last lap but they were reeled in by Whanganui veteran Alan Luff. In the end it boiled down to a bunch sprint finish with Josh Kendall proving too strong from Takumi Clarke and Graeme Bull. The extremes in age difference was most obvious in the D grade where 19 riders paraded themselves at the start line. By the time the first rider came across the finish line, the field was spread out. Cody Simpson was first across the line followed by Emily Shearman and Amelia Home. In accepting the interclub trophy on behalf of Bike Manawatu, club representative Oiroa Kaihau noted the highly competitive but friendly spirit in which the races were held. He also went on to acknowledge the large numbers of people racing from both clubs, in particular those younger riders on restrictive gearing footing it with the adults on open gearing. While there were certainly many standout performances across the grades on the day some worthy of mention came from Josh Kendall, Chris Denholm, Michaela Drummond and Ruby Perry who all rode in the C grade.