It came down to 0.007seconds, but it was enough to secure Jensen Plowright (Team BridgeLane) the stage three victory over Blake Quick (St George Continental) in the New Zealand Cycle Classic which finished in the wine village of Martinborough, Wairarapa, this afternoon.

With the slimmest of margins, the 19-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, retained the yellow jersey and the Under-23 jersey while his gutsy performance on the bike also earned himself the sprint ace jersey. Today’s racing backed up his third place over the line yesterday and second place during stage one and saw him maintain his lead over defending champion and Black Spoke rider Aaron Gate, who crossed the line in third place today.

“On those last few laps I was just going from wheel to wheel … then on that final 500m I just went for it,” he said after the 127km stage, that began in Masterton and concluded with an eight-lap circuit around Martinborough.

“It’s taken me three days to get that stage win and I’m really stoked.”

Even though stage three ended in a sprint finish – the third in as many days – the race field was much more spread out earlier in the day. Breakaways began from the get-go in Masterton with Trust House’s Lachlan Robertson and Cycling House’s Matthew Ross leading the charge as the convoy headed south out of town. At 15km, a group of 11 riders broke away with riders from Black Spoke, BridgeLane, Team Sapura, EuroCycling Trips, New Zealand Cycling Project, AISAN, WBS, Cycle House and CabJacks Castelli. However they were eventually swallowed by the peloton. 

But then at around 40km a group of 14 riders made a break away, with many of these riders from the first breakaway involved as well as Oliver’s Real Foods Racing and Couplands Bakery. At one point the group had 2min 30 secs on the peloton but as the first of the eight lap circuit began, the time difference began to drop. 

With three laps to go, the group was back together and the racing was fast and furious. Japanese team KINAN led the peloton with one lap to go but it was Plowright, Quick and Gate that worked their way to the front and got over the finish line first.

New Zealand Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval said it was great to see the stage well supported by so many people, including groups of young children who were dressed up in colourful costumes and had painted faces.

“What a great atmosphere today in Martinborough, especially around the town square with so many people watching the exciting racing. They would not have been disappointed.”

The New Zealand Cycle Classic continues tomorrow with its longest stage ever – a 178.6km slog that features six hill climbs before the final ascent up Admiral Hill in Gladstone. 

Plowright admitted he wasn’t looking forward to stage four and will leave it to his BridgeLane teammates to do the work.

“I’m not stoked about tomorrow’s profile – hill climbing is better left to the other guys like Ben Metcalfe, Ayden Toovey and Kees. It’s going to be a massive day for those climbers and I’m going to save my legs for the final stage.”

Stage Three results:

1. Jensen Plowright (Team Bridgelane)
2. Blake Quick (St George Continental)
3. Aaron Gate (Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy) 

Classification Results

Trust House Individual General Classification Jersey:
Jensen Plowright (BridgeLane)

WIZ Wireless Sprints Classification Jersey:
Jensen Plowright (BridgeLane’s)

Mitre 10 Mega Masterton King of the Mountain Classification Jersey:
Boris Clarke (EuroCycling Trips)

Fagan Motors Under-23 Classificiation Jersey:
Jensen Plowright (BridgeLane)

Mobile Communications Service (MCS) Most Aggressive Rider Jersey:
Frank Sutton (WBS)

Photo: Dave Lintott

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