Oliver’s Real Food Racing enjoyed the “perfect start” to the New Zealand Cycle Classic in the Wairarapa today with Nick Reddish winning stage one and claiming the U23 jersey.
The Kiwi U23 rider took out the 122.5km stage, that went from Masterton to Eketahuna and back through rolling countryside, in 2hr 46mins 04 seconds while New Zealand National Team rider Hayden McCormick came second and Team Skoda Racing’s Robert Stannard third. Kiwi Michael Vink, racing for Brisbane Continental Cycling Team crossed the line in fourth place three seconds behind.
Reddish was thrilled with the win and despite the challenging conditions, said it will set up his team nicely for the next four stages. “Obviously, the perfect start – we will have a talk tonight and see where we want to go from here but we will want to be aggressive again and see what we can do for the rest of the tour,” said Reddish. “It was really tough, very tactical as well as there were a few teams there but obviously we all wanted to win the first stage so it was technical and tactical.”
In addition to being presented with the yellow jersey by race director Jorge Sandoval, Reddish also won the U23 jersey while McCormick’s persistent attacking saw him awarded the Most Aggressive Jersey. Tank Guy/Bikebox Team’s Brett Grieve won the King of the Mountains Jersey after a solid effort on both the sprint stages and KOM.
Today’s race, held in hot and sunny conditions, saw several attacks off the front of the peloton but nothing eventuated until around 60km when a group of 12 riders established a breakaway. By 85km, the group had been whittled down to 10 riders who each took turns at leading out the front – extending the lead to almost one minute over the pack. With 10km to go Reddish and McCormick put down the hammer extending a slight lead over the group while back in the peleton, the pace picked up thanks to strong movement by JLT Condor.
Reddish explained: “It was very hard, nothing really got established early on and it was always pretty fast and then a group of us rolled off about half way through the race and we had a nice tail wind coming home. We were all committed and it turned out pretty well.”
The 31st UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic continues tomorrow with a 121km stage taking riders from Masterton to the wine growing region of Gladstone in the Carterton District and back. The five stage race concludes on Sunday, with a fast and furious 120km circuit race (riders complete 12 laps of a 10km circuit) held on the outskirts of Masterton.