Commonwealth Games medalist Gordon McCauley (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team)
exposed weaknesses in teams-based racing in this country when he won Round Four of
the eight-round Benchmark Homes Tour in Kaikoura on Sunday. The twelve sponsored
cycling teams of the tour suggest New Zealand has a long way to go to match its overseas
counterparts when no one team displayed a leadership role to orchestrate a cohesive
chase behind McCauley.
Almost 110 starters set off from Hanmer Springs in the 123km Ocean Ridge Bicycle
Classic. The peloton was quick to warm into the day with a flurry of attacks led by
McCauley and his team-mate Jason Allen. However it was not until the passing of
Rotherham that the Benchmark Homes duo was able to break free of the main field with
the company of Eliot Crowther (Lowe & Associates).
Storming through Waiau at the 44km mark, the trio-express had 40 seconds advantage on
the main field after Subway initially showed signs of organizing a chase. As the race hit
the first of the frequent climbs, the lead of the breakaway began to extend.
The climb from the Wandle River (52km) split the main field in two as the front of the
peloton now trailed by 1 minute 25 seconds. Still the pursuers failed to organize a
consistent chase as the lead hovered around the one and a half minute mark for nearly the
next hour of racing. Finally, inroads into the lead appeared encouraging when the timegap
at the crossing of the Conway River (82km) was down to one minute 10 seconds,
then just on a minute by the top of the climb out of the basin.
The greasy descents were taking its toll up front as Crowther repeatedly applied caution
that each time left him the task of expending extra energy to rejoin his companions. It
perhaps was not surprising that Crowther was dropped at the 105km mark when the gap
from the leaders to the chasers neared two minutes.
Soon after, Allen suffered the same fate leaving his team leader alone to hold off the
pursuers with 15km to ride with one minute 50 seconds in hand.
Crowther, then Allen were swept up by the attacks that were being made behind as
individual riders tried to make an impression into the lone leader’s lead. McCauley
though was not going to give in easily as his speed towards the coastal town at times
approached 60km/h.
McCauley entered the Ocean Ridge Estate and tackled the final obstacle of the day which
was a 400 metre climb to the finish at 100 metres above sea-level. His lead of around a
minute appeared comfortable as he weaved his way to the chequered flag to just hold off
the pursuers led home by Jeremy Yates (Subway Cycling Team) and Paul Odlin (Trek) at
a dozen seconds or so behind.
McCauley’s well-deserved win placed him back into the series’ white leader jersey
having re-captured it from Odlin by a one-point margin. Subway’s Tom Findlay retained
his lead in the Under 23 classification despite not securing any further points, whilst
Chris Nicholson (Star & Garter – Tasman) produced a fine ride to come home sixth and
extend his lead amongst the Masters. Nicholson’s team finished well to take the day’s
Team prize for the first time in the 2008 series.
Star & Garter – Tasman rider Karen Fulton repeated her win of Round Three by again
finishing first woman ahead of Nimesha Smith (Bikeright) and Katri Laike (Kelford –
Reiker Cycling Team). Smith still retained her lead in the Women’s classification despite
Fulton reducing it by a further three points.
Had the stronger teams of Yates’, Odlin, and Stephen Elden (Kelford – Reiker Cycling
Team) ridden with purpose, then the winner could well have been different. The fact
they did not somehow leaves one the impression that the perception of cycling as an
individual sport will remain in this country, whilst the Europeans acknowledge it as a
team sport.
The Benchmark Homes Tour now enters its traditional winter-break before its resumption
on August 3rd in Nelson.
1. Gordon McCauley (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team) 123km in 3hrs 01mins
2. Jeremy Yates (Subway Cycling Team) at 12secs
3. Paul Odlin (Trek) same time
4. James Williamson (Subway Cycling Team) st
5. Michael Torckler (Trek) st
6. Chris Nicholson (Star & Garter – Tasman) st
7. George Bennett (Star & Garter – Tasman) st
8. Tom Hubbard (Revolution Properties) st
9. Jack Bauer (Star & Garter – Tasman) st
10. Patrick Williamson (Subway Cycling Team) st
First Women;
1. Karen Fulton (Star & Garter – Tasman)
2. Nimesha Smith (Bikeright)
3. Katri Laike (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team)
First Team;
1. Star & Garter – Tasman
Points Standing (Provisional);
1. Gordon McCauley (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team) 64 points
2. Paul Odlin (Trek) 63pts
3. Tom Findlay (Subway Cycling Team/Under 23) 37pts
4. Chris Nicholson (Star & Garter – Tasman/Master) 36pts
5. Craig Lawn (Scott – Penny Sport/Master) 26pts
6. James Williamson (Subway Cycling Team/U23) 24pts
7. Stephen Elden (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team) 24pts
8. Sam Horgan (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team/U23) 23pts
9. Jeremy Yates (Subway Cycling Team) 22pts
10. Jason Christie (Subway Cycling Team/U23) 22pts
Women’s Classification;
1. Nimesha Smith (Bikeright) 25 points
2. Karen Fulton (Star & Garter – Tasman) 20pts
3. Katri Laike (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team) 15pts

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