Timaru will play host for Round Two of the Benchmark Homes Tour this Sunday. The Cyclery Timaru 120 will be its third edition and raced on rolling roads around an altered 33km circuit to be completed four times. The local riders predict the nature of the course will see little or no intact peloton by race end.
Series leader Marc Ryan (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team) will be missing from the start line as the Timaru rider will be in France preparing for the World Track Championships later in the month. Ashburton rider Jason Christie (Subway Cycling Team) will therefore wear the coveted white leader jersey due to his second place position on the points standing. The 17 year-old produced an outstanding ride in atrocious conditions in Round One and will hope to go one place better to record his first win of the series format.
Last year’s series winner Paul Odlin (Nelson) will make his first start in the 2008 series following his return from national team duties in Malaysia. Odlin’s attacking nature on such a course could reap rewards as he tries to recoup lost ground from his late start to the competition. Like Odlin, the Delmaine pairing of Joseph Chapman and Ashleigh Whitehead return to the series following the Malaysian trip. Chapman won the inaugural Timaru event and finished third last year. He and Whitehead will be joined by new Delmaine signing Michael Vink.
Aucklander Gordon McCauley will make his first ever start in the Benchmark series having recently signed with Benchmark Homes Cycling Team for the remainder of the competition. McCauley will be well suited to such a course and no doubt will look to spark proceedings early.
Other riders likely to feature is last year’s Timaru winner Edward Barrett (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team), and team-mates Sam Horgan and Daniel Barry; James Williamson, Joseph Cooper, and Tom Findlay (Subway Cycling Team); Shane Melrose and Alex McGregor (Cycling Otago); Anthony Chapman, Stuart Lowe, and Lester Settle (Lowe & Associates); Chris Nicholson and Jack Bauer (Star & Garter – Tasman); Jonathon Gee and Brett Dawber (BikeRIGHT Cycling Team); and any one from the in-form Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team namely, Reon Park, Darren Shea, Stephen Elden, Shane Archbold, or Brian Fowler.
Fowler narrowly leads the Masters Classification from Lowe and Brad McFarlane (Team Thule Cycling) in a competition that is sure to be hotly contested with the likes of Park, Settle, Nicholson, Darrell Kircher (Lowe & Associates), and Neil Sutherland (Team Thule Cycling) all capable of winning the title.
Last year’s Women’s Classification winner Tracy Clark (Team Thule Cycling) will lead that competition going into Round Two ahead of Jeannie Kuhajek (Star & Garter – Tasman) and Laura Thompson (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team). These three riders will again be in contention to be first woman home on Sunday, however they can expect stiff competition from Josie Giddens and Katri Laike (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team), Sara MacDonald and Kathryn Jones (Cycling Otago), and Nimesha Smith (BikeRIGHT Cycling Team).
The Cyclery Timaru 120 will begin under a neutralized start at 10am from the Old Boys Rugby Clubrooms on Quarry Road and finish on Scenic Reserve Road at approximately 1.15pm.