Frank Sutton avenged a frustrating penultimate round of the Grassroots Trust Team Championship in Tokoroa with victory today.  The Crediflex Cycling rider who is set to head back to Europe in 2019 narrowly held off Dan Cross of Team Paxton, Logan Griffin of GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles and a fast-charging bunch sprint.

Glorious conditions greeted the riders across all categories at the start of the sixth and final round of the Grassroots Trust Team Championship in Tamahere.  Categories 1, 2 and 3 were up against a 98.5km course, while the women and categories 4 and 5 had 65km ahead of them; but the similarities between the two distances – which incorporated differing loops to navigate – were found in the lack of hills and challenges en route to the finish.  Any breakaway was going to be up against it if they were to succeed on the roads around Cambridge, Ohaupo and Tamahere that provided long, straight, flat and largely calm roads

In the build up to the cat 1 event, however, the impression was that there would be no shortage of riders trying to spoil the party for any sprinters waiting for a big bunch gallop; and in the early stages it certainly seemed to be the case.  Shortly after the drop of the flag Xander White of GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles launched an attack and took a marginal lead to the bottom of the short climb up Mystery Creek Road; but the intensity of racing behind him was high and it wasn’t long before his move was brought back.  

Thus spelt the theme of the race, a theme that was matched in categories 2 and 3 where attack after attack would try going clear but ultimately no one-man could break the hold of the peloton.  Logan Griffin of GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles, Drew Christensen of Team Crediflex Cycling, Rueben Thompson of Team Skoda-Fruzio, Greig McDonnell of Espoir Racing and Cameron Wyniatt of Dynamo Events were the early aggressors but they were brought back into the peloton that remained largely together.

Finally a large split occurred in the peloton that resulted in 16 riders going clear of the rest of the field.  In the front group were Frank Sutton and Matias Fitzwater of Team Crediflex Cycling, Dan Cross and Nathan Bell of Team Paxton, Logan Griffin and Xander White of GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles; Matt Markby, Dan Furminger and Cameron Wyniatt of Dynamo Events; Greig McDonnell, Oliver Young and Bryn Thorne-George of Espoir Racing; Jayden Kuijpers and Rueben Thompson of Team Skoda-Fruzio, Dylan Simpson of Team Central Roofing Revolution and Sheldon Gorter of WBOP Performance Hub.

With a gap finally established it was interesting that the group could have found that their numbers worked against them; with tactics coming into the break too much.  However, the large group functioned very effectively together to put over 2 minutes into the large group behind them.

That was not the final twist in the race though, as within the group Sheldon Gorter, Frank Sutton and Bryn Thorne-George all attacked to try and fragment the bunch a little.  In the end Sutton succeeded, first with two other riders inside the final 10km and then alone as the rest of the group closed in on him.  In the final kilometre Sutton was alone with a slender advantage over the sprinters behind him.

Dan Cross led the bunch gallop across the line but Sutton had done enough to take the win by 2 seconds with Logan Griffin finishing third for GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles.  Nathan Bell of Team Paxton took fourth place with Dynamo Events’ Matthew Markby completing the top five.

Despite not scoring in today’s race, Alex Heaney of GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles had already done enough to secure the overall individual series.  Heaney claimed his first first series title ahead of Regan Gough and Frank Sutton; with Sutton’s win seeing him climb above Campbell Stewart into third place, with Logan Griffin also moving up to 4th.  Xander White finished 5th overall with Toby Atkins 6th just ahead of Stewart.

Category 2 was a very close run battle with a late attack just denying the fast-charging sprinters.  James Harvey of GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles took the win after just doing enough to hold off Gordon McCauley of Daikin/Thermal Solutions and Harvey’s teammate Logan Holzer.  In a roller coaster final day, series leader going into the final day – Glen Carabine of Thermal Chemistry/Dynamo Events – dropped to third as James Harvey overtook him and Gordon McCauley to take the series title.

Dan Barnett of GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles took the team’s second victory out of the three categories the team entered into this year’s series.  Despite a massive finishing kick from Thomas McKenzie-Bowie of CNZ Junior Men, Barnett held on with Matthew Whitely of Grit Coaching completing the top three.  Overall Ollie Simcock claimed the overall win ahead of Andrew Reeves and Jan Litchwark.

Category 4 saw a narrow win for Andrew McKay of BDO Auckland ahead of series winner O’Neill Sinclair of Forestland Wheelers and Stantec’s Craig Moriarty.  Behind Sinclair in the series were Matt Miln and Andrew McKay.

A Bob’s Bikes 1-2-3 was on the cards in category 5 with a dominant display by the team in the final sprint; led by Stephen Fache.  Nathan Toia finished second with Phil Read in third place to complete the clean sweep.  Overall it was Russell Thorpe who did enough to secure the win ahead of Toia and Darren Hume.

With no elite women’s race on the final day Elyse Fraser secured the overall win last weekend ahead of Ally Wollaston and Penny Pawson.  The Open Women’s A & B races did go ahead though, with a clean sweep this time for Surprisycle.  Victoria Wiltshire led the race home with teammate Georgia Perry; who had managed to gap the rest of their grade by 4.35mins.  In the sprint behind them Judikje Scheffer took third place for the team.  Overall Perry secured second place behind Emma Hannan who took the overall crown; with Ella Morton finished third in the series.

Finally in the Open Women’s B race Kristi Dorotich of RABBITS – TOOT TOOT BEEP BEEP finished 11 seconds clear of teammate Sophie Hamer with Fleur Wallace of Bob’s Bikes Pedal Chicks in third place.  Hamer had a tight grip on the overall win though, ending the series with 78 points to Jane Carswell’s 55 and Dorotich’s 49.


For full results from this season’s Grassroots Trust Team Championship click here.


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