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Nick Lovegrove from SUBWAY® Pro Cycling won the 101 kilometre Forrest Graperide on Saturday to secure his first win of the season.
The Auckland based cyclist was very happy to cross the line first after a series of recent podium finishes where he had failed reach the top step.
“It was great to finally post a win after a number of misses,” he said. “The team rode a great race and I wouldn’t have been in a position to win without Sam (Horgan) and Tayla (Harrison) drilling it in the break. They rode a really strong race.”
Lovegrove said the whole team played a role with Matt Gorter, Dillion Bennett and defending champion Paul Odlin all contributing throughout the race. Odlin lost time after crashing heavily while in the leading break as it descended towards Havelock but recovered to finish in 13th place, just one minute and 41 seconds down on Lovegrove’s winning time of two hours and 25 minutes.
The defining moment came when five riders got away from the leading bunch with 25 kilometres left. It included SUBWAY® Pro Cycling riders Lovegrove, Horgan and Harrison, Benchmark Homes rider Will Bowman and Robin Reid from the Scotty Browns Cycling Team.
Lovegrove said they worked very hard to establish the gap and once done it was a matter of using his team’s superior numbers to get the win.
“I hit out with just over one kilometre to go and Robin came with me. I hit the front just before the final turn to the finish line and held on for the win.”
The key moves were made on the climbs out of Picton after the 40 kilometre mark but a number of crashes slowed the leading groups down as they wound their way round Queen Charlotte Drive.
“It’s great to keep the elite title within the SUBWAY® Pro Cycling Team as we are just so well supported, Lovegrove said. “Results like this are not only great for the riders but are good reward and profile for the team’s sponsors.”
Horgan crossed the line third with Harrison on his wheel claiming fourth, just four seconds behind Lovegrove. Gorter was seventh 42 seconds further back.
SUBWAY® Pro Cycling also lined up in round one of the Benchmark Homes Elite Racing Series near Blenheim yesterday which was won by Dan Barry from the Benchmark Homes Cycling Team.
Tayla Harrison was the first SUBWAY® Pro Cycling rider home, finishing sixth, 35 seconds behind Barry. SUBWAY® Pro Cycling is the Benchmark Homes Elite Racing Series defending champion team and Horgan topped the individual standings last year.
SUBWAY® Pro Cycling General Manager Hayden Godfrey said it was a disappointing start to the series and after a series of impressive recent results it was not always possible to get every race right.
Results – Forrest Graperide elite men
1 NICK LOVEGROVE, AUCKLAND 2:25:54; 2 ROBIN REID, NELSON 2:25: 3 SAM HORGAN, CHRISTCHURCH 2:25:59 ; 4, TAYLA HARRISON CHRISTCHURCH 2:25:59; 5th WILL BOWMAN, CHRISTCHURCH 2:26:20; 6 THOMAS ASHLEY, NELSON 2:26:42; 7 MATT GORTER, NAPIER 2:26:43; 8 DANIEL BARRY, NELSON 2:26:44; 9 MARC PRUTTON, CHRISTCHURCH 2:26:49; 10 RICHARD LAWSON, CHRISTCHURCH 2:26:53.