Danielle Ward’s ability to capture the beauty of cycling is first rate, and we were delighted to see her at this year’s New Zealand Cycle Classic.  Here Danielle from Concept78-Photography shares some of her personal favourites from the two days she got to spend in the Waipa region following the race and her reasons why they stand out to her.

 

Hayden McCormick pressing on

This has to be my favourite image from our coverage of stages 4 and 5 of the Tour in Cambridge. After the peloton had passed us at Tauwhare Road I made my way back to the Te Piki climb as it’s a great place to watch the riders as they make their way up the 3km climb. Once stationed there I had to rely on my second camera in the field, and Oliver who was with the Brad Tilby in the Skoda car, was able to get this shot of Hayden McCormick grinding his way up Te Piki. I love the shot because it shows real grit, not only in the grain of the image but with Hayden out of his seat there is a real determination and strength in his posture. It shows road side supporters, who did a great job in supporting the event, and of course the helicopter which seems to bring all the components of the image together. It was great to have the helicopter out there following the lead bunch as it served as something like a giant goggle map marker and for those who weren’t near a screen, you could make out when the lead riders were approaching. When the riders came passed me up the climb the loud cheers of support were utterly drowned out by the distinctive pounding of the air from the rotors of the helicopter above.
 
Hayden McCormick climbs Maungakawa during stage 4 of the New Zealand Cycle Classic, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Aaron Gate in yellow

Aaron Gate riding for EvoPro Racing from Ireland. I like this shot because it’s always a pleasure to have Aaron back in New Zealand and here we have him riding in the yellow jersey with a background that is very New Zealand in its nature.
 
Aaron Gate defending the yellow jersey, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Cyrille Thiery leads the way

The first group of riders are making their approach during stage 4 with the Polka Dot jersey of Cyrillie Thiery from Switzerland leading the charge. It was wonderful to see so many riders from around the globe here racing just days after the UCI World Track event.
 
 
Cyrille Thiery leads the way during stage 4, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Fan fever on Maungakawa

I just like this one because the organizers did such a fantastic job of putting this event together. When you consider that to get to the finish line at Maungakawa Scenic Reserve, if you didn’t have a bike, everyone had to walk the last little bit after either parking off the course (which for some meant a long long walk) or they got the shuttle bus to the turn then walked the rest.  Considering that, the crowds that came to support were awesome and numbers were large. Once there they were well catered for with plenty of refreshments on offer as well as the giant screen with a live feed of the race all set amongst the beauty of the reserve. A stunning end to a great day’s racing.

The crowds watch stage 4 of the New Zealand Cycle Classic atop Maungakawa, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Beware flying bottles

Stage 5 circuit 1.  A few were inclined to set up their teams’ feed zone on the crest of this hill.  Feed zones are places of stress, panic, potential theft of other teams’ water bottles from desperately thirsty riders and chaos, in other words, they can be fun!  I love this shot of water bottles flying through the air as they are discarded. What happens to all of these that are left roadside?  Brad from Team Skoda Fruzio picked up each and every one of them and put them in the back of his car to be picked up later if they so wished.

Bottles fly in the feed zone during stage 5 of the New Zealand Cycle Classic, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Calm before the storm

I just like this one of the EvoPro Racing team relaxing pre-race in the morning sun while having breakfast before Aaron Gate heads off to finally clinch the win in the New Zealand Cycle Classic.

Aaron Gate, Cyrus Monk and Luke Mudgway looking composed before stage 5, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Count the cars in the convoy

The team procession that followed was pretty impressive and at times led all the way back to the horizon.

GD Pringle/Spoken Cycles lead the convoy, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Early stage 4 breakaway action

The peloton starts to break up out on the first stage. I like this photo because it shows the breakaway digging in and the bunch with support vehicles are shown blurred into the background.

Hayden Mccormick (right) in the early move during stage 4, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

Team Skoda Fruzio in action

The passion of support was awesome to see as Brad hands off a water bottle as well as words of encouragement to Joel Yates who had attacked the bunch and was off the front for some time.

Brad Tilby hands Joel Yates a bidon during the New Zealand Cycle Classic, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Zeno looking very photogenic

Well no one ever said it was easy, but at least he gets his own camera crew!  Matt Zenovich was one of the great animators of the race and this photo sums up what he is about as a rider.

Matt Zenovich on the offensive, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Supporting the cyclists

Along the way on the second circuit some locals hung over their fence to offer some reassurance. The more road cycling can gather support from locals the better off everyone will be as it may encourage even more supporters and more tolerance out there for when they are just out there training; as well as racing.

Fans enjoy the spectacle of the riders flying by, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

Feeling fabulous at the finish of stage 5

How can any event be covered and there not be at least one celebratory line cross?!  Theodore Yates gave a thrilling push to win stage 5 and Jensen Plowright was just as euphoric to cross in second place beside him giving Drapac Cannondale Holistic Development Team a nice 1-2 for the finish.  In images I really like to capture emotion in all its spectrums, and this is one of those shots.

Theodore Yates and Jensen Plowright celebrate 1st and 2nd on the final day of racing, photo Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography

 

 

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