Daniel Busbridge of Rotorua Racing has won the category 2 race at the fifth round of the Dynamo Team Championships. Busbridge was part of a late chase that caught lone leader Aaron Strong of Burnsco Black Spoke Racing – who finished second – with Mel Titter of Blindz Direct taking third place.
98.7km of racing awaited the category 1 and 2 fields in round 5 of the Dynamo Team Championship. The Tokoroa course has a reputation for being a challenge to the riders and not necessarily the most predictable in terms of outcomes. Going into the race Team GMC/Thermal Solutions’ Stuart Holder wore the checkered jersey of series leader. He went into round 5 with a 9 point advantage over Aaron Strong of Burnsco Black Spoke Racing and 10 points over race 1 winner Lachie Dickson of Mt Eden Cycles/Jack Tar.
Under clear skies and still conditions, weather was perfect for the category 2 riders and the field of some 70 riders were eager to attack the race. Once the flag was in the riders stretched right out under the early aggression showed by Aaron Strong of Burnsco Black Spoke Racing. He was quickly pegged by Stuart Holder, but the intent was clear from the start. Two riders attacked next, with Spoken Cycles and 2 Degrees both keen to head up the road. Their move was just one in a number of mini-skirmishes that took place, with Logan Mort of Mt Eden Cycles/Jack Tar also in on the early action.
Finally one rider from Spoken Cycles escaped and gained a slight advantage before a small group also pulled away from the peloton. The group were well represented by a number of different teams, with Blindz Direct, Spoken Cycles, GMC Racing, Mt Eden Cycles/Jack Tar and Thermal Chemistry/Dynamo Events all among the teams involved. But that too came to naught, with the race far too closely monitored by the bunch. For the opening 20km or so, the long straight and flat roads did nothing to help the endeavours of breakaway riders.
At 23.7km a move from Blindz Direct and Mt Eden Cycles/Jack Tar looked to go clear, but this time it was Gordon McCauley chasing the break back, with still nothing able to establish itself. Richard Speer of Mt Eden Cycles/Jack Tar and Blindz Direct’s Isaac Burton. At 32km the duo had managed to establish a 35 second advantage but that quickly grew as the peloton finally relented.
The pair worked well together and slowly extended their lead out to 45 seconds at 34.6km but that stretched further to 1.15mins as the riders approached 40km. With 44km covered though the gap had stabilised and a small group of five riders had launched off the front of the pack in pursuit of the leaders. Up the road there was developments too, as Burton dropped off the pace at 47km. The five chasers had been mopped up by the peloton and it was just a matter of time before the now lone leader, Speer, was also brought to heel; which he duly was around the 50km mark.
Attacks weren’t over yet though, and a pair of riders were next to attack after 57km, with two others individually trying to get across. Eventually three of the riders merged and tried to establish a decent advantage with the course about to take an uphill turn. At 67km the road turned left and the climbing began. The leading trio now consisted of Paul Duynhoven of Blindz Direct, Logan Mort of Mt Eden Cycles/Jack Tar and Michael Jones of 2 Degrees.
Behind them Aaron Strong asserted himself on the front of the peloton, keeping the break within reach; with Stuart Holder on his wheel. Strong’s pace saw the breakaway caught, but it also saw the bunch split, with a group of eleven riders breaking clear of the remnants of the peloton. Glen Carabine of Thermal Chemistry/Dynamo Events was in no mood to sit up and he continued to drill the leading group. But eventually the group began to look at each other, with Kiaan Watts of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Hub seizing his opportunity.
That seemed to inject the necessary energy into the move, but the peloton appeared to be not quite done yet. There remained a sizeable bunch that managed to reel that group back in again and with 73km covered it was gruppo compacto.
The next attack came via a solo effort from Blindz Direct but again it was left to Strong to bring him back and Holder was sat right on his wheel. This time though Strong proceeded to launch a bit of a move of his own. There was no response this time as Holder was put a little into the red and forced to settle into a chase group of five riders. Strong’s advantage was slight and it would be interesting to see how the somewhat lengthy downhill section would help or hinder his effort. Behind him Drew Christensen of 2 Degrees and Kiaan Watts broke clear of Holder and two others in pursuit of the lone leader.
But Aaron Strong was beginning to really stretch the legs and put time into those behind him. The undulating climb was really suiting him and no one was able to hold on or stop the Aucklander from gaining any more time. For the Burnsco Black Spoke Racing rider it was a case of entering his well crafted time trial mode which had served him so well in the past.
With 14km to go the time gap was sitting at 44 seconds to the chasers. At the turn onto Kinleith Road with 12km remaining the gap was hovering at 36 seconds and it was going to be pretty touch and go to whether he’d manage to hold his advantage. The major obstacles were out of the way now and it was at this point advantage peloton who had Strong in their sights. At 10km to go the gap had come down a little more to 30 seconds. It was set to be an electric finish if Strong continued to commit to his attack.
At under 8km to go the gap was down to 20 seconds and it was looking likely that the bunch would succeed in making the catch. But still Strong persisted, maintaining a gap of 15 seconds with the remnants of the peloton strung out in pursuit. But from the bunch came an attack from three riders, determined that the race would not end in a mad bunch sprint finish. They were closing in on Strong rapidly, with the bunch still taking their time a bit. With 3km to go and the turn in to Mossop Road taken the catch was made and four riders continued to lead the race.
Joining Aaron Strong at the front of the field were Daniel Busbridge of Rotorua Racing, Mel Titter of Blindz Direct and Glen Carabine of Thermal Chemistry/Dynamo Events. These four had just a slender lead over the chasers, 16 seconds in all, but it was enough; and the quartet proceeded to charge for the line together. Ultimately it was Busbridge who had the pace to take the win ahead of Strong and Titter, with Kiaan Watts leading home Blindz Direct’s Ronan Avery, and Drew Christensen.