Alex Heaney virtually secured his first series win in the Grassroots Trust Team Championship with victory in round 5 in Tokoroa; and put GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles within touching distance of the team classification. Heaney took the win out of a small group sprint ahead of Toby Atkins of WBOP Performance Hub and Glenn Haden of Tank Guy/Bike Box.
The penultimate round of the Grassroots Trust Team Championship presented by Dynamo Events returned to a well known and well-loved location in Tokoroa; a location that has established itself as a firm favourite of the series. The roads around Tokoroa are renowned for providing a little bit of everything and a more than capable challenge for all grades. The category 1 race saw the field take of around 40 riders take on 89km of racing with Alex Heaney level on points with Regan Gough at the top of the leaderboard. The pair shared 26 points a piece with Campbell Stewart lying in third place with 18. The team classification saw GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles enter with a lead of 10 points from WBOP Performance Hub with Team Skoda-Fruzio starting the day 12 points back in third.
Heaney began the day a little reluctantly, one of a number of riders feeling the effects of the week’s racing at the New Zealand Cycle Classic. “Yeah, it was quite a big week last week to be fair and still feeling a few effects from it so I ended up sitting back a bit more than normal through the early stages of the race,” Heaney told RoadCycling.
The break of the day would prove decisive with Toby Atkins from WBOP Performance, Glenn Haden from Tank Guy/Bike Box, and Team Skoda-Fruzio’s Rueben Thompson heading up the road. Heaney was initially absent from the move but that quickly changed. “I thought that it was a dangerous move so I jumped across to it with Greig McDonnell [of Espoir Racing] joining us just after and that was it. We worked well together for the next 10-15mins and got the gap, the gap kept going out and we knew we had it so everyone starting missing the odd laps trying to save themselves.”
Despite tactics and strategy inevitably playing a role in the functioning of the break, the five leaders managed to build a gap that still sat at just shy of 2 minutes by the race’s end. Heaney was keen to take a shot at solo glory, but a possible combination of the day’s efforts and post-Cycle Classic fatigue meant that it would all be down to the sprint.
“I do always love a good small group sprint but would rather not need too,” Heaney said. “If I could have gotten away and guaranteed the win I would have but to be honest I didn’t have the legs so had to play the sprint card.”
Heaney had the legs in the end to take the sprint and with it virtually secure the series win with one round remaining. Toby Atkins sprinted home for second place with Glenn Haden slotting home third ahead of Greig McDonnell and Rueben Thompson. Behind them Kiaan Watts of Team Skoda-Fruzio led home Dynamo Events’ Steve Furminger and Team Paxton’s James Krzanich to close the gap on GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles at the top of the leaderboard in the team standings.
For Heaney to take the win, and to have shown consistency throughout the Team Championship, has been a major positive across the summer. “Yeah first win in 4 years of series has been quite elusive but glad to finally get one under the belt, I’ve been consistent this year which I think is key to putting up an overall fight and it’s finally come together.”
“It has been a pretty big summer for the team and very successful, last week’s Cycle Classic was an awesome week for the team winning the U23 jersey, 7th overall on GC and 3rd team – and the first NZ team – we thought was pretty cool, one more race to go next week so we are hoping to go out with a bang.”
The final round of the Grassroots Trust Team Championship 2018-2019 will take place in Tamahere this Sunday 10th February.
For full results from round 5 of the Grassroots Trust Team Championship click here.