Race Report: stage one
GOUGH CLAIMS YELLOW JERSEY AFTER OPENING STAGE OF NZ CYCLE CLASSIC
5 January 2022
Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling team enjoyed a strong start to their UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic campaign in Masterton, Wairarapa, tonight with Regan Gough claiming the yellow jersey and Logan Currie the U23 jersey.
The pair were part of a tight knit team who overcame slightly windy conditions to finish the fast, flat 10km course in 11mins 44.8 seconds while Coupland’s Bakeries/Booth’s Group team were second in 12min 06.4 secs and the New Zealand National team third on 12min 11secs.
After being presented the yellow jersey, Gough paid tribute to his team that included Joshua Kench, Mark Stewart, Ryan Christensen and Michael Fitzsimons.
“Each played a part in it so it was awesome to get around there and I believe (we now have) a little bit of a buffer on the other guys so that is always good because it is going to come down to seconds out there this week. Just the nature of the course and the competition … so every second counts,” he said.
It backed up Gough’s claim earlier in the evening, during the teams’ presentation, when he told the crowd that Black Spoke’s new look team had plenty of depth, with many cards to play.
For Currie, claiming the U23 jersey was a dream start to the five-day Tour – especially because he was a late inclusion in the team after Michael Vink withdrew due to injury.
“It’s a really good start for us. I only got the call up about a week ago that I was in the race so had to sharpen up and get ready for it,” said Currie.
While all eyes were on the NZ National team, led by current national champion and Tour de France rider George Bennett, it was actually Team Coupland’s who set the pace early. As the third team to set off in tonight’s time trial, Coupland’s almost maintained their top position thanks to strong performances by Glenn Haden and Paul Odlin. Huddled under their sponsors tent, Coupland’s had an agonising wait to see if they had claimed the top spot with Black Spoke the final team to set off for the night. But it wasn’t meant to be, as Black Spoke powered their way around the course with Gough putting his head down on the final straight to lead his team over the finish line.
Bennett seemed philosophical with his team’s third placing.
“It was pretty tough,” said Bennett. “Pretty rude way to start the year with 10kms full gas. We were a bit off the pace but that is why we are here to get those kinds of efforts in as you don’t do that in training. Lucky, we had Laurence and Zander, the two younger guys carry us … me and Shane were kind of dragging the chain. Hopefully a few more efforts like that by the end of the week and we will in some form of shape for the big stage.”
Tonight’s opening stage held from Mitre 10 Mega Masterton was officially opened by Masterton’s Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont, who welcomed all riders to Wairarapa and wished them luck for the next few days.
The NZ Cycle Classic continues tomorrow with riders racing through rolling hills and farmland from Masterton to Alfredton return, in a 158km stage that finishes with a short hill climb outside the Masterton Golf Club in Lansdowne.
Stage three (127km) will see riders head south from Masterton to the pretty wine village of Martinborough while on Saturday, 8 January, riders will complete the 137.2km Queen stage including its new hilltop finish on Te Wharau Hill, one of the steepest climbs in Wairarapa.
The fifth and final stage is a circuit around Wellington’s streets, including along Lambton Quay. Prior to this, there will also be an opportunity for recreational riders to participate in a fun event called Cycle the Golden Mile, which debuted this year and was very successful with riders of all abilities taking part on a variety of different bicycles – including a Penny-farthing.
The 2022 NZ Cycle Classic is able to take place thanks to the generous support from Trust House, Mobile Communications Service, Wizwireless, Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega Masterton and Lion Foundation plus all three Wairarapa District Councils.