After tasting success in Australia’s tough National Road Series Dunedin’s Brad Evans will start Saturday’s fifth round of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series, the Kiwi Style Bike Trails Nelson Classic, as the firm favourite in the elite race.
Being held in the Upper Moutere region near Nelson, racing is shaping up as an exciting battle with a number of riders still in contention for overall series honours across several classifications with only two races left. The Moutere Circuit has a number of climbs on narrow winding roads and features rolling terrain and fast flats which will provide a stern test for riders.
Racing in Australia for Drapac professional cycling team’s development team Pat's Veg’s Evans has had three NRS wins along with a series of top placings in the Tour of the Great South Coast that sees him currently lying ninth in the NRS individual standings. He will have strong support on Saturday from a young Modus Construct team that contains last round’s winner Christchurch teenager Max Jones along with other well performed under 23 riders Daniel Ellison and Jake Marryatt.
Evans, who had his first major elite win in Nelson three years ago, only arrived back in New Zealand this week, but was ‘really looking forward’ to Saturday’s race. “Nelson has some fantastic terrain that really suits me,” Evans said. “I had my first top result there and I’m going to enjoy racing hard with the young team we have.”
Elite series leader Sam Horgan (Mike Greer Homes Racing), last year’s Nelson round winner and second placed Tom Hubbard (Bread of Europe-All About Plumbing), Hubbard’s team mate Southlander Luke McPherson, TotalPOS Solutions team mates Richard Lawson and Reon Nolan and Nelson local, double winter and summer Olympian, Chris Nicholson, are all riders also capable of winning on Saturday.
Forty eight year old Nicholson is eligible to ride in the master’s race but is still more than competitive in the elite race finishing in the top 15 in his two starts in the series this year. His efforts are made even more impressive as he riding with a pacemaker that was inserted after a potentially fatal cardiac arrest in late 2013.
Wellington’s Dave Rowlands (Christchurch Mitsubishi) will be keen to back up his impressive overall masters win four weeks ago in Ashburton. Rowlands has won the two rounds he has started in this year and another winning effort will put him within reach of the masters 35 to 44 classification leader Brent Allnut (Team Thule Cycling) with only the final round left in October.
Placemakers once again will field a strong line up that will be focused on a good result for Dunedin’s Justin Stott who lies only two points behind Allnut after four good races that have include a win in the second round and second in round three.
Darrell Kircher (Christchurch Mitsubishi) will be keen to retain his 45 to 40 classification lead over Paul Gough (Cycle World Masters) while Gough’s team mate Chris Harvey will look to strengthen his narrow lead over Corsa Zona Rossa’s Geoff Searle in the over 50’s classifcation.
Silver medallist in the road race at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games Nelson local Greg Fraine is another strong rider making only his second appearance in the series. Fraine (Cycle World Masters) is the former head coach of Triathlon New Zealand's High Performance programme and won the over 50s classification on the tough Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura route last year in May.
The Benchmark Homes team will be looking to move last year’s women’s series winner Sharlotte Lucas into the leader’s jersey currently being worn by Black Magic Black’s Amanda Jamieson who also leads the under 19 classification. Lucas claimed her first win of this year’s series last month in Ashburton, winning a large bunch sprint.
Riding for Freshchoice Richmond Pomeroys, Karen Fulton, who currently lies third in the series, will be flying the flag for the local Nelson region. Other women that should feature includes Jamieson’s team mate Mikayla Harvey who will represent New Zealand at the Under 19 Junior Road Cycling World Championships in the Unites States later this month alongside Cycleworld Fairweather’s Georgia Catterick, round two winner Vidasana Thule’s Jeannie Blakemore and Benchmark Home’s Amy Brazier And Elyse Fraser.
Teams will aim to be in a strong position for the final round, the Cycle Surgery St Martins Hell of the South that features a number of gravel sections, on Saturday October 11, in Canterbury's Selwyn District.
The elite men's field will race over 138 kilometres on Saturday while the masters and women's events will tackle 122 kilometres.