Steve Lampier of Blindz Direct has won the final round of the Dynamo Team Championship in Tamahere. Lampier was able to call on a final burst of energy to get the better of Aaron Wylie of Kiwivelo and Alex Heaney of Spoken Coaching after a day-long breakaway survived out front over the infamous Maungakawa climb. Michael Torckler secured the overall individual crown with Blindz Direct making it a clean sweep with the overall team title.
After early showers, the humid conditions quickly dried the roads for the final round of the Dynamo Team Championship. The sixth round saw Tamahere playing the role of host for the field and the smaller category 1 race took off on the testing 98.7km course with the ever present threat of showers hanging in the air. Michael Torckler of Blindz Direct went into the final round with the series lead looking good, but not completely secure. He held an 11 point lead over James Oram and Cameron Wynniatt; but the battle for prominence in the team classification was even more intense as just five points separated the top three of Team Skoda Racing, Spoken Coaching and Blindz Direct.
Quick to test the waters were riders from CrediFlex Pro4mance and Team Skoda Racing. But with a few nervous legs in the team classification it would be interesting to see how long riders would leave it before a break would finally be allowed to stick. A few skirmishes early on saw CrediFlex, 4 Zero p/b Solo CC and Blindz Direct all in on the early action, with Michael Torckler himself involved in chasing a couple of early moves along with Age Group Road National champion Alex Heaney of Spoken Coaching.
After 10.9km of racing a group of five riders broke clear of the peloton, with Tom Carter and Jason Thomason of Blindz Direct both in the move. They were chased and caught by a chasing group of our riders including KiwiVelo, and the group of nine riders were the first move to properly show signs of being able to break clear. In the move was a good representation of riders from a number of teams, but cooperation was the big difficulty; and in the end they were brought back, with Thomason continuing the attack briefly along with the Kiwivelo rider.
They were joined by another group of seven riders or so and this time it looked like the peloton were prepared to sit up and allow the break of the day to form. Thomason had company in Steve Lampier and Cameron Wynniatt, while also in the move were Logan Griffin and Alex Heaney of Spoken Coaching, Josh Kench of Team Skoda Racing, Aaron Wylie of Kiwivelo, and Toby Atkins and Karl Poole of CrediFlex Pro4mance. Heading towards the first major climb of the day though cooperation was again the issue at the front of the race and Thomason was clearly frustrated enough to take the initiative himself. He wasn’t able to build his lead over the rest of the break, but the gap to the peloton had extended to some 40 seconds.
The breakaway group headed onto Maungakawa Road ready for the big climb with a handy lead over the rest of the field. The climb didn’t see any major moves from within the break but it did see Toby Atkins drop back after his initial efforts. On the front of the group Steve Lampier led the way up the climb with Logan Griffin in tow. Back in the peloton the climb was just starting to splinter the bunch. But it was a big move from Team Skoda Racing that saw a group containing Michael Torckler close to within a few seconds of the leaders.
That was enough for Steve Lampier to decide to press on a bit. The group behind him was being pulled along by Oscar Elworthy and Jayden Kuijpers of Team Skoda Racing, with Michael Torckler paying close attention to the goings on at the head of that chase bunch. Over the top of the climb the field had strung right out with a number of 1s and 2s forming across the road. Elworthy’s work had been done at the front of the group on the climb and he now dropped back a little while Torckler made his way forward in the group towards the head of affairs. At the front of the race, the break had made good their advantage, stretching their lead out and taking advantage of the numbers that were present in the move.
Numbers in the group had swollen a little though with the addition of both Finn Fisher-Black and Jayden Kuijpers of Team Skoda Racing alongside Michael Torckler. With tensions running high in the team classification though there were clearly a couple of different agendas in the break and frustration was again evident as some riders opted not to chase everything as the break split and reformed and repeated the exercise. Behind them the stragglers had reformed and were closing in on the tail end of the break that had now split.
Alex Heaney of Spoken Coaching was caught out in the split but he accelerated just before a twisting and turning downhill section to bridge solo across to the remaining five riders who were out in front. The front of the group was now made up of Heaney, Kench, Thomason, Griffin, Wylie and Lampier; they were some 20 seconds or so ahead of the split at 44.1km as the race headed on to Aspin Road. As the kilometres ticked away it became clear that the battle between Spoken Coaching and Blindz Direct for team honours was of paramount importance, and ultimately the tension between the two teams in the end that saw Logan Griffin and Jason Thomason drop back; leaving the four remaining riders to continue on with a significant lead over the two at 50km. The second climb of Maungakawa awaited and the race was really beginning to take some good shape.
At the foot of the climb the four leaders were still together and no one initially looked intent on attacking from this far out with 46km still to cover. For much of the climb the quartet remained together, but as the climb neared the summit Josh Kench fell back from the leaders as Steve Lampier stretched the rest of the group. Behind them Logan Griffin put in a big effort on the climb to try and regain contact with the leaders, but his efforts ultimately cost him; and Thomason left him behind as the summit approached and went off in pursuit of Kench.
Back in the chasing ‘peloton’ Michael Torckler and Cameron Wynniatt were also leaving the rest behind and heading up the road. They went with Frank Sutton of CrediFlex Pro4mance and were closing in on Kench and Thomason at 62.2km, with 36.5km still to race. But at 65km covered Alex Heaney made his first move to just put the pressure on Lampier and Wylie who were still present. It wasn’t enough to drop his companions but it was enough to delay Thomason’s and Kench’s regaining contact with the leaders. But finally the catch was made with 32km remaining and a group of five was once again on board at the front. Their advantage was looking sound at this stage with 1.45mins to the nearest chasers on the road; Torckler, Fisher-Black and Griffin all present.
In the ensuing kilometres the chase group of four riders closed to within a little over minute, but as the break turned back on to Fencourt Road and the end of the second lap of racing – with 22km left to race – it still looked to be advantage breakaway. However, the games of cat and mouse were still being played, and Alex Heaney was tactically sitting on the back of the group; not taking a turn on the front but knowing that it was in Blindz Direct’s best interests to keep pushing the pace.
Lampier wasted no time though in making his intent for the race clear. He attacked and dropped both Wylie and Kench, with only Alex Heaney and Jason Thomason able to bridge across. Wylie wasn’t quite done yet though and he also managed to drop Kench in a bid to get across; succeeding only just and re-establishing a group of four riders with 16km remaining. Behind them though the Torckler group were closing rapidly, but would they have closed quickly enough?
Torckler’s group quickly picked up Kench and as they made it to 16km to go they’d closed to within 1 minute of the leading quartet; which now had Heaney working along with Lampier and Thomason; although Wylie was just beginning to play a bit of a tactical game sitting on the back of the group. Behind him Kench was dropped from the chase group that had now closed to within 50 seconds. That gap continued to close and at the turn onto Tauwhare Road the race was really up in the air with Lampier and Thomason driving the pace at this stage; still maintaining a 40 second gap to a solo chaser with less than 10km to race.
That gap dropped just slightly to 35 seconds with 4.5km remaining, but it was still Thomason and Lampier driving the group and closing in on the completion of not just a successful race but a successful series for the team. Heaney was supporting the breakaway effort, but for now it was still Wylie sitting on the back, knowing he could afford to save himself for the sprint.
The quartet pushed all the way to the line and just about managed to withstand the chasing group, and in the sprint for the line it was Lampier – who was able to call on the last reserves of his strength – who managed to take the sprint. Heaney led it out but Lampier was right alongside him and just about managed to hold off the fast charging Wylie to take the win with Heaney third.
Overall Michael Torckler’s 7th place across the line was enough to secure him the overall series crown ahead of teammate Cameron Wynniatt and Alex Heaney, while Blindz Direct, Spoken Coaching and Team Skoda Racing all ended up level on points; with countback needed to decide that Blindz Direct had done enough to take the team win ahead of Spoken Coaching with Team Skoda Racing third.