Dunedin is proving a happy hunting ground for Commonwealth Games bound cyclist Kate McIIroy who made in two winning years in a row in the Armstrong Prestige Dunedin Classic yesterday.
Riding for the new Lightworkx Photography team McIIroy, who turned her back on the international triathlon circuit two years ago to join the Specialized Women's Racing team in Australia, had her first one day race win as an elite cyclist in Dunedin’s round of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series last year, won again with similar tactics to win in three hours and four minutes after 109 kilometres of racing.
Her Commonwealth Games team mate Sharlotte Lucas (Velo Project) outsprinted Ella Harris from the Mike Greer Homes team to finish second, just under a minute behind McIIroy while last year’s Calder Stewart Cycling Series women’s champion Mikayla Harvey (Mike Greer Homes) was ninth, five minutes off the winning pace.
“I was really happy to finish off my team mates hard work who protected me all day to the bottom of the hill,” McIIroy said. “They put me in the best possible position to start the climb so really it was about doing my part and giving back to the team.”
McIIroy enjoyed riding for the new Lightworkx photography women’s team that features girls under 16. “I hope the result gives them the motivation to train hard and smart and I look forward to being part of this.”
“Racing with three riders supporting me was an exceptionally hard thing to do, but we followed the team plan, and to see the way they all rode was impressive to say the least.”
“I was surprised with the legs that I had. It's one of the hardest climbs I have raced but it's the type of climb that I love. It's not easy to win bike races so I'm really proud of today's result and the way we rode as a team that was a critical to my win.”
Although having won stages in Tour events of Australia’s National Road Series, is was only McIIroy’s second ever one day race win
The women’s leaders jersey will change hands in the next round in Hokitika on the South Island’s West Coast as McIIroy, who will be at her third Commonwealth Games in her third sport, will be racing with Lucas in the road race.
Riding as an individual Rachel Thow, who finished tenth in three hours and nine minutes, was the first over 35 female home so will defend that jersey in the next round while Annamarie Lipp (Velo Project) was the first Under 19 rider home finishing fifth two minutes ahead of Thow.
Matt Zenovich (Transport Engineering VeloSouth) was an impressive winner in the men’s 134 kilometre race, dropping last year’s Calder Stewart Series joint Under 23 and elite men’s winner Jake Marryatt (Black Max Performance) in the final stages of the 14 kilometre climb to win in three hours and 18 minutes.
“I felt good and taking the win was great and it's even better that I raced for a team based from Invercargill,” Zenovich said.
“The day was really about teaching our young squad how to race like a team and we held back until we really needed too and then they executed things perfectly so I'm proud that they have learnt something and I’m extremely happy to take the win to reward the hard work the boys did.”
The key moment in the men’s race was on the last lap up the small climb on the 30 kilometre circuit the elite men did four times before tacking thy climb up Lee Stream Valley. “The team lit it up over the hill and a small group of us got across the gap to the break which set us up perfectly for a head start on the climb.”
Zenovich is hopeful his race programme with his Australian St George Continental Cycling Team will allow him to race the next round and defend the leader’s jersey.
Marryatt claimed the Under 23 leader’s jersey and Team Skoda Racing’s Ari Scott won the Under 19 jersey finishing fifth after a tight fight for final placings with Kees Duyvesteyn (NZ Cycling Project Ricoh) and Paul Odlin (PKF Waterproofing Concepts), who claimed third, just 15 seconds after Marryatt.
Wellington’s Davis Rowlands (Christchurch Mitsubishi) took overall line honours in the master’s race that features three age group classifications, riding away from Blair Martin in the final stages to win in two hours and forty one minutes. Nelson’s Warrick Spence (Freshchoice Richmond Pomeroys) was third almost two minutes behind Rowlands and Martin.
“It was good to win and the team decided to attack more to force a favourable split or faster race,” Rowlands said. “The team rode well to repeatedly attack and counter attack so it was good positive racing. Blair Martin climbed very well and the defining moment was holding Blair's wheel up second steep pinch.”
Rowlands is on the comeback trail from a fractured rib said he was keen for a hard race to push up his form.
Martin (Cycle World Emersons) will wear the masters 35 to 44 jersey in the next round while his team mate Chris Latta was the first over 50s rider home, finishing eighth just under four minutes behind Rowlands who claimed the 45 to 49 leaders jersey.