There’s an international feel as cyclists head to the South island for the third round of the RaboPlus national road in Marlborough tomorrow.
A strong field will line-up for The Forrest Grape Ride including a team from Noumea, led by former Upper Hutt and Credit Agricole professional, Chris Jenner, who remains the only New Zealander to have won a stage on the Tour de France.
There’s interest at the top of men’s competition where current points leader Mathew Gorter should have the benefit of support from his Subway Avanti team. There are three Subway Avanti riders currently in the top five in the national series with national time trial champion Gordon McCauley in fourth and Sam Horgan fifth.
Second placed Patrick Bevin (Taupo) and third placed Brett Tivers (New Plymouth) are not racing which will give a chance for Gorter to take a sizeable lead in the competition, although the powerful Benchmark team will hope to have something to say about that.
There’s also interest in the entry of Christchurch’s Hayden Godfrey, returning to the road after just missing out on the team to the world track championships in Denmark.
Others to watch include former Olympian Robin Reid and fellow Tasman local Cameron Karwowski, a member of last year’s world junior champion sprint squad, back in his hometown of Blenheim for the event.
There’s also a chance for a new name to emerge in the women’s race, with none of the leading contenders lining up tomorrow.
That might leave the likes of Tasman’s Dale Tye and Karen Fulton to shine, along with talented young Southlander Sequoia Cooper, who enjoyed a successful track nationals last month.
The 101km ride starts at the Forrest Estate Winery in Renwick on the outskirts of Blenheim before heading north into Picton, to the spectacular Queen Charlotte and Pelorous Sounds before returning with a climb over the Mahakipawa Hill through Havelock and back to Renwick.
Racing begins from 6am with the main event starting at 8.15am and recreational riders from 8.30am.
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