A calm overcast Wairarapa day greeted riders for race one of the PNP Pak N’ Save Summer Road Series, the Ocean Beach Challenge. Rain threatened but never quite arrived. The turnout was fantastic with almost 100 riders participating, 74 in the 82km Grand Fondo and 23 in the 60km Medio Fondo.
The calm muggy conditions foretold a fast race for the Grand Fondo. This was the case with several attempts to establish a break on the outward leg being unsuccessful. The peloton arrived at the turnaround intact. The small pinch climb just before the turn split the pack and some hard chasing was required by many to get back on. The first decisive break of the day followed soon after with Dave Rowlands of Meo GP going clear soon to be joined by Matthew Webber of Rivet Racing. They stayed off the front for a good 5km before being absorbed back into the bunch.
The action really started to heat up in the turn for home with numerous attacks and counter-attacks occurring. Several mini breaks occurred but none were able to stick. 12kms from the finish a break went clear and this turned out to be the winning move. The break contained Dave Rowland, Brendan McGrath, Henry Levett, and Michael Naylor. They worked well together and held a slender 10 second lead at the 5 km marker. The bunch lacked the cohesiveness to close the small gap due in part to some clever team riding. With the finish line in sight and the bunch closing fast, Rowlands sprinted away from the other escapees for an excellent win ahead of Brendan McGrath and Henry Levett. Mike Naylor finish fourth just ahead of Boston Bright who won the bunch sprint. Ione Johnson finished in the front bunch winning the Women’s open from Natalie Howell.
The Medio Fondo was just as hard fought with 14 of the riders finishing within 13 seconds of the winner. The riders set off at good clip with the experienced riders organising the bunch and keeping the pace high. The first attack happened at the 20km mark as the race went up a short climb. This saw the bunch split with nine riders unable to regain contact. As with the Grand Fondo the heat went on down the homeward stretch and numerous attempts were made to get away. None being successful. This saw the 14 strong peloton line for a full gas sprint. Close to the finish 15 year old Josh Turnbull jumped and managed to open up a five bike length lead. Greg Cundy using all of his race experience managed to catch Josh on the line and take the win by a tyre width! What a fantastic finish!
It was a great day of racing for all.
In the Teams Competition, the nature of the format encourages performances across the sex and age categories, with teams with a wide representation in the age grades doing well. Onslow Tarbabies take the lead driven by category wins in the Medio Fondo from Elizabeth Tomlinson and Malcolm Standrill (60+ age categories), and Juliette Lister (45-54). Rhonda Gardner (35-44) took a win in the Gran Fondo. In close second place is MeoGP and in third the youth from Bayleys Racing Team with wins from Henry Levett (U19) and Ione Johnson (Open Women).
Team Series Points Total
Onslow Tarbabies 116
Meo GP 104
Bayleys Racing Team 100
Rivet Racing 84
Series Teams entries remain open and it will be great to see some other local clubs and teams enter and have a go. With over 1000 points still available, there is plenty of opportunity to win from the prize pool. Remember, teams do not have to be formal. You can put together a social or business team and uniforms are not compulsory. While team size is not limited, only the top 10 placing riders earning points within the team will count on any given Event day.
Hope to see you all lining up for the Martinborough Ngawi Classic on 24 February. Don’t forget to get your entries in early as it helps with planning. Registration is at the Village Café in Martinborough from 8.30 to 9.30am with races starting around 10am.