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Olympic track hopeful Sam Bewley led the BikeNZ team after the opening stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic in Palmerston North today [25 January].
Bewley is part of the BikeNZ endurance track squad who are using New Zealand’s only UCI sanctioned road tour as part of their Olympic preparations. The four-day tour around the Manawatu has attracted 21 teams from USA, Australia and New Zealand headed by US-based Team Type 1 Sanofi, a full UCI Continental team.
Bewley (Rotorua), who raced for the Radioshack team on the World Tour last year, was one of six riders to be separated by just thousandths of a second.
“I’m pretty happy with my result – I didn’t think that I would be that far up there. I’ve had a few weeks not doing much intensity so this is a good start to the tour,” said Bewley.
“The tour is really about training for us. I would like to go well here, but I’m not sure if I am up for it. I had a big break over Christmas. I have just been back training for a few weeks. If the legs are good I’ll try to go well, but if not it will still be some good solid training.”
The tour is ideally positioned to provide some high-intensity racing for Bewley, and BikeNZ teammates Aaron Gate (Auckland), Myron Simpson (Auckland), Marc Ryan (Timaru) and Shane Archbold (Timaru) before they head to the RaboDirect Track National Championships in Invercargill next weekend.
It was 19-year-old Australian Campbell Flakemore (Genesys Wealth Advisors) who claimed the honours in the opening 7.1 m individual time trial in 9 minutes 28 seconds to win the first stage and the yellow jersey in his first international race.
The top six riders all clocked 9min 28sec, to suggest the Tour will be closely fought.
Christchurch rider Michael Vink (Mico-Protrain), overall winner of the recent national road championships, is the highest ranked Kiwi, placing second. He finished ahead of Damien Howson (Jayco-AIS, Australia), Nick Aitken (Jayco-AIS, Australia) Paul Odlin (Subway Pro Cycling, Christchurch), Joseph Cooper ( Ricoh, Wellington) and Bewley with the top seven separated by less than a second.