Hayden McCormick of ONE Pro Cycling went into the Hub Tour riding solo, and came away having led the race from start to finish. McCormick endured a tough weekend of racing to take the win in the Open Men’s Race.
The 2017 Hub Tour commenced with a 7km individual time trial. Racing on his road bike McCormick immediately made his intentions clear as he took the win in a time of 9.11mins; an average speed of 45.74kph. His time was good enough to beat Andy Hagan by 8 seconds and Shamus Christison who took third a further two seconds back. It was a result that took Hayden by surprise given that in the run up to the Hub Tour he’d been battling through sickness.
“I was crook all week until I did my first ride on Wednesday,” Hayden told RoadCycling. “I was pretty happy to win [the prologue] especially as I hadn’t done any intensity.”
McCormick’s prologue win was the catalyst for a very tough defensive series of stages, as the Waikato World Road Championships rider from last year went into the road stages without team company. Up ahead in stage 1 was a 66km course around the Crownthorpe Settlement Circuit. The hilly circuit of 33km to be navigated twice in all, saw McCormick forced onto the defensive and chasing hard to make sure that no one was able to gain a significant advantage on him by the time the race reached the finish line. He succeeded as by the time the race reached the finish line a peloton of just over 30 riders arrived at the end together. Luke Mudgway took the stage win ahead of Nick Reddish and Nicholas Monroy who finished tied for third with Campbell Stewart.
The afternoon stage for the Open Men’s race took them 114km around the Ohiti Circuit. This time it was three laps of the circuit with a gradual uphill finish to cap things off. This time around time gaps did build at the line, but they weren’t big enough to knock McCormick off of top spot. Campbell Stewart took the win 5 seconds clear of Logan Griffin, with Josh Page taking third place this time around. Despite finishing 18 seconds back in the company of Ryan Christensen and Jack McLaughlin McCormick went into the final stage still in the lead although tied for time with Logan Griffin; while Campbell Stewart had now worked his way up to third place at 8 seconds.
The split stage is a bit customary in New Zealand short stage racing, but for McCormick who spends most of his season over in Europe it’s not something that he gets very used to during the season. “We don’t do a whole lot of them in Europe. Normally if you do it’s a time trial in the afternoon or morning,” Hayden explained. “But it’s ok, it’s quite hard if you’re leading the race because you have to do quite a lot in the morning and still have the legs to do the same in the afternoon. It definitely favours people who have done a lot more training, so it was fine for me but it’s just tricky without having teammates; but you just have to think a bit more on the spot which is a good thing I guess!”
The final stage of the 2017 Hub Tour took the field around the Dartmoor/Apley Circuit, with the Open Men’s race tackling four laps for a total of 113km. The race finished with an uphill drag to the line. This time McCormick was an instigator in several of the moves, but later in the race it looked like he might have let the stage – and potentially the race – escape him. “Today I was in pretty much all the moves except the one that left [with] Callum Gordon and Ryan Christensen [with] about 2 minutes with three quarters of a lap to go, and I just hit it and rode across to them with about 10km to go and just beat them on the climb.”
In the end it came down to Ryan Christensen vs Hayden McCormick as on the climb toward the line Gordon dropped back. It was a close sprint finish but McCormick had enough pace to just about take the win. That secured him the 2017 Hub Tour by 23 seconds, ahead of Ryan Christensen who took second ahead of Callum Gordon. Gordon didn’t claim the stage but managed to claim the polka dot jersey for king of the mountains, while Logan Griffin managed to claim the sprint ace jersey.
“It’s good for the form for the Cycle Classic and Dubai as well,” McCormick said. “I haven’t done that race since I was quite young, so it’s always good racing in the Bay. It’s nice to get back to basics and start the year with the Hub Tour and then hopefully it’s a bit of a snowball now and I can carry on. I definitely feel like I’ve gone up a level from racing last year, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes. I think I’m definitely on track.”
For full results across all the categories of this year’s Hub Tour click here.