The new format for the SBA most combative jersey will add a new element of tactics for teams to consider as this year’s Calder Stewart Cycling Series kicks off in Dunedin with the Midway Motors Dunedin Classic.

“Points accumulated from sprints and climbs during the races will also count towards the overall series,” Event Director Jake Rowse from Revolution Events said.

“This will give team leaders something extra to think about during the races and we hope it will make the racing even more active and exciting.”

Rowse said the four weekend, six race format throughout the South Island introduces more variety of races this year, with round one in Dunedin being more suited to climbers, the second round includes an individual time trial for the first time and round three has a route on the West Coast with gravel sections around scenic Lake Kaniere.

“For 2019 we want the Calder Stewart Cycling Series to continue to provide a recognised platform for riders to make a name for themselves and go on to pick up international riding careers,” Rowse said. “This pathway has really been highlighted by the women’s field over recent years with a lot of the riders in the series going on to race overseas on the international scene.” 

“We are really excited to see how this weekend’s Midway Motors Dunedin Classic plays out. No one really knows who is on great form after riders have taken different paths over summer. The track riders have just come off their Nationals while other riders have been racing in Australia recently.”

Dunedin has proved to be a successful round for New Zealand Commonwealth Games representative and pro cyclist Kate McIIroy who has won the last two in a row in the Dunedin Classic, the 2017 win being her first one day race win as an elite cyclist after a successful career representing New Zealand in triathlon and running.

“I’m really looking forward to the opening race of the Calder Stewart series,” McIIroy said. “The Dunedin course is my favourite on the calendar and possibly a course with the hardest climb in New Zealand racing.”

She would love to make it three in a row but knows she is up against a very strong women’s field that includes Jenna Merrick, Deborah Paine and Amanda Jamieson from the powerful Mike Greer Homes team, and Velo Cycle Project’s Kirsty McCallum and Annamarie Lipp and World Masters time trial champion Jeannie Blackmore (Cycle Surgery Bartrams).

“We have a smaller Lightworkx Photography Development Team this round so will be looking to draw on good tactics and experience from the last few years,” she said.  “I’ve had a slightly different build up to normal, mixing up my road riding with some mountain biking races which is a bit of a challenge for me.”

Dunedin is a favourite round of the series for Kate McIlroy, who took her first one-day win here as an elite cyclist, photo Rachel Harris

Riding again this year for Transport Engineering VeloSouth Southlander Matt Zenovich says although he’s keen to repeat last year’s win on this course time he is conscious he’s racing with a group of young riders wanting to learn and make the step up into elite and team racing so will also play a teaching coaches role.

“I always look forward to doing a decent race and it’s even better when it’s only two hours from home rather than having to take multiple flights and bus trips,” Zenovich, who rides for the Australian based St George Continental Cycling Team, said.

“I’m not too fussed on who is racing, I’m more focused on the cards I need to play to make the race fall in my or my teams favour. There will always be good local riders but one rider will never be as strong as a team of riders working as a unit; let’s not forget that it is indeed team racing.”

Zenovich will have to contend with last year’s runner up on the course, the Calder Stewart 2017 overall series champion and two time Under 23 series winner Jake Marryatt from the Moore Stephens Markhams Canterbury Development Team who recently set a new course record on the Christchurch Time Trial Club’s 16 kilometre Ti Tapu circuit.

The young Team Skoda Fruzio outfit features a number of New Zealand’s brightest cycling prospects that includes team pursuit junior world track champions Corbin Strong and Bailey O’Donnell along with Ari Scott, Laurence Pithie and Max Jones.

Others sure to make their presence felt are last year’s elite series and SBS Tour of Southland winner Michael Vink and his Ridge Homes team mate and Dunedin local Brad Evans, SBS Ricoh NZ team mates Kees Duyvesteyn and Theo Gilbertson and Campbell Pithie (Contract Consultants Cycle Surgery Tineli).

Last year’s men’s masters’ winner in Dunedin, Wellington’s David Rowlands, is downplaying his chances on Sunday; saying his form is average after limited racing and stressing he is focused on riding for his Christchurch Mitsubishi team this year.

Dave Rowlands always heads to the Calder Stewart Series as one to watch, an will be among the favourites for the win in the masters race, photo Rachel Harris

“The sprints should be a good innovation but I hope I don’t regret suggesting it,” he said.

Rowlands usually starts a master’s race in New Zealand as the rider to beat but others capable of threatening overall line honours in the men’s master race that features three age group classifications includes Chris Karton (Willbike Cycling Team), Neil Cleghorn (H R Bulding), Justin Sims (Armitage Williams Racing) and Christchurch Mitsubishi team mates Glen Rewi and Stu Lowe.

Making a return to masters racing after almost two years, Lee Johnstone (Kiwi Style Bike Tours) may find the climb too long on Sunday, but will be a rider to watch as the season progresses.

Racing will be in two parts, the flat circuit around Taieri and Dunedin Airport that should see some aggressive racing, especially with the SBA Most Combative Rider points up for grabs, which will see breakaways try to escape across the three races and attempt to build a winning lead before the final tough 14 kilometre climb up Lee Stream Valley.

The elite men race 134 kilometres while the masters and women tackle one less lap of the flat circuit so cover 109 kilometres.

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