This weekend sees round 4 of the Grassroots Trust Team Championship head to Onewhero where Alex Heaney will look to build on his overall lead in the series. He will do so without teammates Sam Gaze and multiple series champion Michael Torckler though and will face a stern challenge from the climbers looking to take the race on.
Last round’s new location in Ngaruawahia saw Campbell Stewart rise to prominence and take the win in a three man breakaway that included GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles’ Xander White and Team Crediflex Cycling’s Frank Sutton. All three will be back this weekend as the final round of 2018 arrives. Two more rounds remain after the New Year; but riders will be able to enjoy a break over the Christmas period and will doubtless want to go into the festive season with a bang.
This weekend in Onewhero will be all about the climbers though; with racing across all grades finishing with a brutal ramp up to the line. It has been the location of much drama in the past and last year was the scene for Ryan Christensen to attack and claim the win in style. Christensen will be on the start line with Crediflex teammate and brother Drew.
Regan Gough, second in the overall standings, is back with WBOP Performance Hub that is bristling with strength in the form of Bernie McGrath, Toby Atkins, Jarred Treymane, Campbell Stewart and Sam Dobbs. Also look out for Espoir Racing’s Alex Ray on his way back to race fitness again after his awful crash last year had him fighting for his life.
Category 2 welcomes the return of Burnsco BSR’s Aaron Strong to the line up. Strong is another who has been out of action for the last several weeks, but is battling back to fitness again. With teammate Paul Bishop in the overall lead at this stage by just 1 point the category 2 classification is very much up for grabs. Look for the power of Thermal Chemistry/Dynamo to come to the fore on the climb, with Daikin/Thermal Solutions’ Stuart Holder also one to watch after recently returning from his campaign at the Pioneer Mountain Bike event.
CNZ Junior Men’s Ollie Simcock will line up in defence of his category 3 lead, and with two wins out of three events he has shown exceptional form so far in the series. O’Neill Sinclair of Forestland Wheelers has been similarly consistent in category 4 and is establishing himself firmly as the man to beat. In the elite women’s race Kerri-Anne Page of Castelli Womens Racing could be one to watch and so too Deborah Paine of North Island Womens Performance Team. With Elite Road Nationals honing into view, many will remember Page’s aggressive riding over the rolling Napier course and she may well find herself in her element in Onewhero again.
Russell Thorpe of Team Rayglass GMC lines up to defend his category 5 lead, while Emma Hannan of CNZ Junior Women and Sophie Hamer of Rabbits – Toot Toot Beep Beep lead the Open Women categories A & B respectively and will put their leads to the test on Sunday. Racing begins from 10am with categories 4, 5 and women taking on 56.7km, categories 2 & 3 tackling 79.2km and the category 1 race going up against 102.6km of racing.