Dunedin cyclist Kees Duyvesteyn is poised to claim his first Calder Stewart Cycling elite men’s series title while Amy Hollamby from Timaru could potentially take the women’s series leader’s jersey off her teammate Kate McIlroy in the final double header weekend in Canterbury.
After four rounds throughout the South Island the series final weekend features the Calder Stewart Ladbrooks Kermesse on Saturday followed by the iconic Cycle Surgery St Martins Hell of the South on Sunday.
The Calder Stewart Ladbrooks Kermesse is being held on a 5.66 kilometre circuit in Ladbrooks, on the outskirts of Christchurch, with the elite men and masters doing seven laps to cover what will be fast a furious 39 kilometres while the women will complete six laps, racing 33 kilometres, with riders battling it out for sprint points on each lap.
Sunday’s Cycle Surgery St Martins Hell of the South features two notorious race defining gravel sections in Canterbury’s Selwyn District near Leeston, south of Christchurch, that riders will tackle a number of times that always has a major impact on the racing.
The elite men will aim to complete four laps of the gruelling 36 kilometre circuit to cover 144 kilometres while the women and masters men do one less lap to tackle 108 kilometres.
After returning from racing overseas Duyvesteyn (SBS Ricoh NZ) had an impressive elite men’s win in round four of the series in Nelson late last month to take the series lead off Jake Marryatt (Moore Stephens Markhams) while McIlroy and her Lightworkx Development teammate Hollamby rode away from the women’s field that saw McIlroy extend her lead in the series and Hollamby move up to second.
Former Sportswoman of the Year McIlroy, who has represented New Zealand internationally in four different sports, cycling, triathlon, steeplechase and mountain running is not racing this weekend due to work commitments. This may see her lose the series lead to Hollamby if the South Canterbury cyclist was to win or come second on Sunday and pick up points on Saturday.
Duyvesteyn, who carried his good form after Nelson into Cycling Otago’s Kelvin Hastie Memorial Handicap race last Saturday, overcoming a 65 minute handicap and challenging conditions to ride through the entire field to comfortably win and record the day’s fastest time, goes into the weekend as the man to watch.
“I had great form for the last round of Calder Stewart but that course suited me a lot better than the upcoming Canterbury rounds with it being longer and hiller,” Duyvesteyn said. “The kermesse will likely end up in a bunch sprint which is not my strength but we will look for opportunities for a break or try to form some sort of lead out.”
The Dunedin University student said he liked the introduction of a short kermesse in the series, saying it adds variety to the racing and gives the pure sprinters a good opportunity on Saturday to shine.
“The Hell of the South can always shake things up in the points the risk of puncturing being so high and how selective the gravel sectors are the series can be won or lost there,” he said.
Although well positioned to take the series title Duyvesteyn is conscious things are still close at the top of the points table pointing out Andrew Bidwell (BlackMax Nutrition) and Campbell Pithie (Contract Consultants Cycle Surgery) are both riding well and knows Christchurch cycling coach Paul Odlin (Ridge Homes) is always strong on the flat and in a sprint.
The elite men’s standings are dominated by Under 23 riders with Duyvesteyn on top followed by second placed Bidwell 16 points behind and l Pithie who is four points behind Bidwell. The leading elite men’s rider is Odlin who is fourth followed by Marryatt.
Another rider expected to make his presence felt on the gravel on Sunday is Michael Vink (Ridge Homes), who has won the Cycle Surgery St Martins Hell of the South four times.
The Christchurch based rider, who will look to defend his SBS Bank Tour of Southland title early next month, has had a solid year racing in Asia and has just completed the seven-day UCI-ranked Tour of Taihu Lake in China, where his St George Continental team mate Dylan Kennett won the overall title while he finished fifth.
Transport Engineering Velo South leads the elite men’s team’s classification followed by Ridge Homes while three riders are locked at the top of the Small Business Accounting Most Combative Rider competition, Laurence Pithie (Team Skoda Fruzio), Duyvesteyn and Richard Lawson (Moore Stephens Markhams).
In the women’s standings Hollamby lies 23 points adrift of her teammate McIlroy with the Under 19 women’s series leader Henrietta Christie (Velo Project) only four points behind her, ensuring some aggressive racing on both days in the fight to pick up valuable points.
McIlroy has a seven point lead in the Small Business Accounting Most Combative Rider competition and Velo Project is the leading women’s team.
The masters men’s over 50 classification is set for some exciting racing with only 12 pints separating the top three riders, leader Stuart Lowe (Christchurch Mitsubishi) on 84 points, followed by Chris Harvey (Cycle Lab Joyride) on 77 points and Paul Gough Cycle World Emersons on 72.
In his first year of masters racing after moving out of the elite ranks Brett Grieve (Cycle Lab Joyride) has a dominating 42 point lead in the 35 to 44 age group over Andy Hilton (Cycle World Emersons) while Chris Karton (Willbike Cycling Team) and Michael Crawford (Armitage Williams Racing) are locked in a battle for third, both on 47 points heading into the weekend.
David Rowlands from Wellington (Christchurch Mitsubishi) is another series leader not racing, having built up an unassailable lead in the masters men’s 45 to 49 age group classification ahead of Justin Sims (Armitage Williams Racing) and Neil Cleghorn (H R Building).
Rowlands looks set to lose his masters Small Business Accounting Most Combative Rider lead with early jersey wearer in the competition Craig Domigan (Cycle Surgery Anzco Craft Embassy) lying second, just two points off the lead with Greive biting at his heels just one point further back.
Christchurch Mitsubishi leads the master’s men’s team classification from Cycle Lab Joyride.
Racing gets underway on Saturday at the Ladbrooks Community Hall with the masters men at 12.30 while the elite men roll out first from the Crate & Barrel in Leeston at 10am on Sunday morning.
Weekend last hurrah for series owners
This weekend will see the end of the series being owned by Jake Rowse and Richard Scott of Revolution Events, who say watching young riders come through the series and go onto professional careers overseas has been an “absolute highlight.”
“There have been so many riders come through the series that have gone on to perform on the world stage,” Scott said. “We have the most recent crop with riders like junior track world champ Finn Fisher-Black who has signed a two-year contract with the academy of World Pro Tour team Jumbo-Visma through to riders like Sharlotte Lucas who gained all her early racing experience in the series and now races in the women’s pro tour.”
Scott said watching the development of the Mike Greer Homes Women's Cycling team was another highlight. “They brought another level of professionalism and a real euro team attitude to the series,” he said.
“The success of the team could be attributed to the team manager Patrick Harvey who provided the same level of commitment and attitude to management level. The success of this team pushed other teams up another level and we got to witness some fantastic and aggressive women's racing over the years. At its height we saw almost 50 starters on the line in the women's event.’
Other riders who have raced in the series included double Olympic medallist Hayden Roulston, world champion on the track in the omnium Hayden Godfrey and George Bennett, who was first Kiwi to win a World Tour cycling event at the Tour of California.
Rowse and Scott said they would like to think they grew Greg Hume's vision and intent from when he first started the series in 2005 that focused on providing young Kiwi riders an opportunity to experience European style racing in New Zealand.
“The series is so important for our young riders as it provides real team based cycle racing experience that helps them learn and develop so hopefully they can go on to bigger races and teams overseas, so it provides a real stepping stone.”