Defending champion Serena Sheridan made a winning start to the RaboPlus National Points Series when she took out the Yarrows Taranaki Cycling Challenge in New Plymouth today.
The Hawkes Bay rider was too strong for the smallish field of women, who rode the full 150km men’s course.
Sheridan, who dominated last year’s series, broke clear to ride with one of the men’s packs. She finished in an impressive 4:07.34, which was eight minutes ahead of her nearest rival and only 14 minutes behind the overall men’s winner.
New Plymouth’s Kerry Ann Torkler edged out Auckland’s Mel Burke in the sprint finish for second.
Hamilton’s Matthew Gorter produced the best finish to edge his way to victory in the men’s race.
A lead group of three riders broke clear to fight out the finish, with Gorter grabbing the narrowest of wins, recording the same time as local New Plymouth hope, Brett Tivers, with Sam Horgan (Christchurch) three seconds behind.
The leading two riders both clocked 3:53.33 in hot conditions, with riders coping with temperatures close to 30C Deg.
The race was the first round in the RaboPlus national series, which comprises 12 races around New Zealand and finishes with the Rice Mountain Classic in Wellington in December.
The race started and finished in New Plymouth, taking in the towns of Okato, Opunake, Manaia, Eltham, Stratford and Inglewood.
The next round is the Perry Foundation REV Classic in Hamilton on 20 February.
Today’s race was also the fourth round of the RaboPlus Recreational Cycling Ranking series with a big number of the 600 riders enrolled in the series competing today.
Results, Yarrows Taranaki Cycle Challenge, 150km:
Elite men: Matthew Gorter (Hamilton) 3:53.33, 1; Brett Tivers (New Plymouth) same time, 2; Sam Horgan (Christchurch) 3:53.36, 3.
Elite women: Serena Sheridan (Hawkes Bay Ramblers) 4:07.34, 1; Kerry Ann orkler (New Plymouth) 4:15.29, 2; Mel Burke (Auckland) 4:15.30, 3.