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Benchmark series hits the rough
Aug 17th, 12. After the winter break the Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series kicks off again after next Sunday when the men's and women's pelotons face the gravel roads of the "Hell of the South".
Round 4 on Sunday August 26th starts and finishes in Selwyn, central Canterbury.
Gravel roads are not a new phenomenon for the series, but this year sees a new approach - kermesse type racing with 8 laps of 16km for men and 5 laps of 16km for women.
Each lap includes 1.9km of gravel and dirt road.
"There will also be primes to spice things up!" Race Manager Stuart Lowe told RoadCycling.co.nz
"With gravel, luck will play a part. After the winter break and not much racing for local riders, anything can happen - great for spectators (coffee and food available)," Lowe said of his expectations come race day.
After the first three rounds, Daniel Barry of the Benchmark Homes team is leading the men's series and Karen Fulton of Tasman Wheelers is leading the women's series - raced separately from the men for the first time this year.
Although entries are still open, and therefore the startlist is not close to being finalised, Lowe singled out a few riders he believes could thrive on this gravel circuit course.
"Gordon "peoples champion" McCaulay could really profit on a course like this, he is strong and always seems to have good luck. Masters riders "Nico" Chris Nicholson (Tasman Wheelers) and "spesso" Mark Spessot (CycleWord) will definitely be in the Top 5. Maybe an outsider like James McCoy (Homestyle Test Team) who rode well on this circuit a couple of years ago could take the win.
The recent heavy in rain in Canterbury has seen the Selwyn gravel section under water and although the organisers are hoping this will clear, they have another 1.1km section of road to use as backup if the main route is not passable.
Lowe hopes to get 120 riders across the Elite Women and Elite Men pelotons next weekend for Round 4, which is the first of four rounds in this second part of the series' season. Round 5 is in Timaru on September 23rd, with Nelson and Oxford seeing the final round challenges.
Although this season's series is ony half way through, the organisers are already looking to 2013 when they hope to have two rounds in the North Island.
The race starts and finishes at Ladbrooks this Sunday starting at 10am finishing Approx 1pm.
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