A late crash in the final round of the Dynamo Team Championship saw racing in all following races neutralised in Tokoroa today. The incident took place in the final kilometre, with organisers making the decision to annul all results aside from the open women’s and category 3 races in order to protect the safety of the riders arriving behind a mass pile up that occurred close to the finish line.
Racing in the final round of the Dynamo Team Championship got underway in Tokoroa to some horrible conditions. Though the wind wasn’t extremely strong the conditions were wet, with a little heavy drizzle in the air. Michael Torckler entered the final round of the series guaranteed of the overall victory as second placed Regan Gough and his Cycling New Zealand team were all absent from proceedings. Nevertheless he paid close attention to matters on the front of the race early on – not opting to sit back and relax – as riders jostled for early position.
With the team time trial to contest later on in the day it would be interesting to see which of the riders – if any – would be holding back for their team’s sake in the road race. The course for the elite riders was 83km in length and featured three laps of the rolling circuit. It took a little over ten kilometres for four riders to move up the road ahead of the peloton. That didn’t last long though and that was quickly brought back in time for a move of two to go clear. While events at the back were beginning to develop, with the pace and non-improving conditions causing a number of riders to fall back; matters at the front of the race were struggling to really get going.
The turn onto Mossop Road sparked life into the head of the race with some strong moves going up the road. CrediflexPro4mance and Blindz Direct were both in the mix, although it looked like Michael Torckler had been held up a little bit because of a mechanical problem. He was quickly back in the bunch though, although there was a fair bit of chasing to do for the bunch as a couple of splits began to emerge.
Still nothing could quite go clear though as the riders plummeted down the descent approaching the start of lap two, with a small handful dangling out in front of the race. The drizzle became heavier and much less pleasant as round 2 began, and it was credit to the riders that they managed t stay upright, with a lot of surface water to contend with.
As lap 2 began though a group of 5-6 riders broke clear and established a 16 second gap on the peloton. Blindz Direct were on the front of the peloton, keeping close attention on what was going on up the road; but it was getting progressively harder to get the move back in rank. At the front of the pack CreditflexPro4mance lent their support to the chase but the break were stretching a little more and another move was forming in between.
The breakaway group was a decent sized one with Austin Head and Jared Gray of Ricoh, Joshua Aldridge of Blindz Direct, Connor Brown of Team Skoda Racing, Daniel Johnston and Sam Phipps of Rotorua Racing, Anton O’Connell of Spoken Coaching, Karl Poole of Bike Lab and Alex Heaney of Spoken Coaching. Between them and the peloton was another group consisting of Boris Clark of Crediflex Pro4mance, Sam Titter-Dower and Cameron Wynniatt of Blindz Direct, Cory Cannings of Bike Lab and Logan Griffin of Spoken Coaching.
Heading towards 50km covered the gap had grown to 1.15mins for the leading group of riders. Rotorua Racing and Ricoh were in the strongest positions number wise, with each having two riders in the front of the race. Blindz Direct had also clearly given another of their riders the green light to chance their arms at the head of the race with Joshua Aldridge in the move, and Michael Torckler comfortable back in the bunch; knowing that his series win was secure whatever happened.
By the time lap 3 came along the gap had grown further to 2.10mins and it became clear that these ten riders would be contesting the win. Still between them and the bunch though were Luke Mudgway of Spoken Coaching and Sam Titter-Dower of Blindz Direct. The break were working strongly together, with Ricoh’s Mike Carswell also in the group and appearing to be doing the work for teammate Austin Head. A positive for the riders was also the fact that the rain had subsided although the roads were still very slick. Ricoh led the break as the race headed up the long gradual climb in the first half of the lap, while Joshua Aldridge and Connor Brown were also paying close attention to goings on at the front of the race.
As the riders reached the summit of the long drag the gap had reduced a bit to 1.50mins with 8 riders chasing behind but with the toughest of the roads tackled now the chances of the break staying clear were still strong. But Connor Brown wasn’t done yet. With some 20km of racing to go and the last little rise to contend with he launched a big attack to break the group of ten riders up and lure four riders away including himself.
Daniel Johnston had put in a big day of racing but now it was up to teammate Sam Phipps as Johnston now dropped back approaching the summit of the climb. Anton O’Connell had also dropped back, while up ahead Brown’s move hadn’t quite succeeded in taking away the four riders as eight riders reunited.
Ricoh continued to look in a very strong position, but Connor Brown wasn’t done yet as he was determined to attack again with the gap to the bunch remaining at 1.50mins. He managed to draw Karl Poole along with him, but Joshua Aldridge was chasing on behind and taking with him the rest of the group. Next up was Alex Heaney to put in a big turn, but nothing was sticking as all the obstacles had come and gone; making it more likely that the eight riders would be contesting a small group sprint finish together.
Sam Phipps was hanging back for the time being, smartly saving his energy as the Tour of Southland stage winner looked to secure a win in the series, while Joshua Aldridge hit the front. Suddenly though as the break hit 5km to go Phipps attacked, putting Aldridge under pressure. No one could go clear though and it was Joshua Aldridge who took the lead again coming closer to the finish.
The aggressive riding continued until within the final kilometre when disaster struck; or to be more accurate had already struck. In the category 3 race earlier in the day a crash in the last kilometre brought down several riders and resulted in the ambulance being called out. As a consequence all other races afterwards were neutralised with just a few hundred metres of riding remaining.
The result had no bearing on the overall classification as Michael Torckler was crowned series champion for the second year in succession ahead of Regan Gough.
Spoken Coaching claim TTT & series
In the team time trial there was plenty to play for with the top three teams separated by just two points. Blindz Direct headed into the 19km team time trial in the lead on 46 points, but Spoken Coaching produced a blistering ride to take the win against the clock by 30 seconds from Ricoh, with Blindz Direct third.
The result meant that Spoken Coaching took the team classification by 5 points from Blindz Direct, with Team Skoda Racing a further point back in third place.