Round Four of the Benchmark Homes Tour is likely to be a showdown between ex-Trek team-mates Paul Odlin and Gordon McCauley. Last year’s series winner Odlin (Trek) will begin the Ocean Ridge Bicycle Classic on May 11th as leader of the eight-round series having deposed McCauley (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team) of the leader’s jersey in Round Three.
The third edition of the 133km event raced between Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura will follow its traditional course through the scenic Inland route to the coastal tourist town. The course containing narrow roads, and short sharp climbs punctuated with breathtaking descents will conclude with a short steep climb to the finish inside Ocean Ridge Estate.
Odlin’s four-point series advantage will be all the more easily to defend in the absence of several of McCauley’s team-mates who will be competing overseas. McCauley will need to rely solely on seasoned-campaigners Scott Wilder and Andrew Williams, whilst Odlin will be missing team-mate Hayden Roulston.
Whilst both Odlin and McCauley are likely to be pre-occupied with the race for the leader’s jersey, Hasting’s Jeremy Yates will have his sights firmly set on the race win. He will head a strong Subway Cycling Team that co-leads the series’ Team classification. Joining Yates are James and Patrick Williamson, Jason Christie, Myron Simpson, Ruaraidh McLeod, and Tom Findlay. The latter sits third overall and leads the Under 23 classification.
As co-leader in the Team classification, Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team will also field a strong team that will include Brian Fowler, Reon Park, Stephen Elden, Darren Shea, and James Fairweather. Whilst it will want to go into the winter break with the outright lead in this competition, its riders will also want to take out their second individual win of this year’s series. The absence of their more fancied team-mate Marc Ryan will provide Fowler a free reign to repeat his win he scored on this course two years ago.
There are many other riders capable of taking the day’s main prize, namely Joseph Chapman, Matt Sillars, and Michael Vink (Delmaine Fine Foods); Anthony Chapman, Elliot Crowther, Lester Settle, and James Gibson (Lowe & Associates); Alex McGregor (Cycling Otago); Brett Dawber (BikeRIGHT); Tom Scully and Paul Gough (Cycle Surgery – Dunedin); Neil Sutherland and Brad McFarlane (Team Thule Cycling); Jack Bauer, Kieran Hambrook and Chris Nicholson (Star & Garter – Tasman); and Craig Lawn (Scott – Penny Sport Cycles). The latter two are separated by just one point in the Masters classification that Nicholson leads.
BikeRIGHT’s Nimesha Smith has a handy lead of eight points in the Women’s classification, however she will need to finish no worse than fourth to retain her lead should the first woman home be either Karen Fulton (Star & Garter – Tasman), Katri Laike (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team), Sara McDonald (Cycling Otago), or Tracy Clark (Team Thule Cycling). This quartet each has 10 points. And whilst Smith will no doubt be keeping an eye on her immediate challengers, a win could come from Laura Thompson or Donna Sibley (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team), Josie Giddens (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team), or Jeannie Kuhajek (Star & Garter – Tasman). Kuhajek will be returning to the competition following her crash in Round Two that resulted in a broken collar-bone.
The Ocean Ridge Bicycle Classic to be raced amongst the falling autumn leaves will start at 10am from the Sports Pavillion on Jack’s Pass Road, Hanmer Springs