Hayden McCormick can look back fondly on a race rode fantastically by the New Zealand National Team. Having not taken the overall lead on the day that was supposed to decide the Cycle Classic, the team weren’t to be denied another chance at glory and on the final day they made it pay off.
Going into the final day of racing, Hayden McCormick of the New Zealand National Team was staring at his second-second place of the season after finishing runner-up to Jason Christie in the Elite Road National Championships. He was sitting 5 seconds behind a phenomenally strong Robert Stannard of Team Skoda Racing, but with the time gaps being small there was just the slightest chance that he and the team could pull it off.
Speaking to Del Woodford after the race Hayden said, “I knew we had a good chance. I have the most respect for [Rob] he’s super strong but he was chasing a lot of stuff, and I said the boys ‘let’s work him over he’s following a lot of stuff and he can’t do that all day.’ He was probably the strongest in the race to be fair, he rode bloody well, and [on Admiral Hill] he was amazing so I take my hat off to him. But not always the strongest in the race wins and today we used our heads and our hearts.”
Their tactics were brave and almost didn’t reap the rewards with Team Skoda Racing putting in a valiant chase effort over the circuit to come within just a handful of seconds at one point, before resilience from the breakaway group of Jordan Kerby, Ian Bibby, Thomas Stewart and NZ National Team teammates McCormick and James Oram finally saw them pull away to finish with a 17 second advantage. It was enough for McCormick to erase the 5 second deficit and eventually finish 17 seconds up on Stannard with Bibby also gaining from the time gap in the end and taking second overall.
Looking back on what will be one of the most famous wins in Cycle Classic history, a race that went right down to the wire, McCormick said, “It’s amazing to win here, the boys really worked hard, and I’m glad I could finally finish it off instead of being bridesmaid.”
“Normally it’s me doing the grafting so it’s nice to be able to finish the job for the boys.”