NZ Cycle Classic Winner Corbin Strong. PHOTO/DAVE LINTOTT
New Zealand National team rider Corbin Strong left it until the final sprint to usurp his teammate and tour leader Finn Fisher-Black to win the New Zealand Cycle Classic.
Fisher-Black went into the final stage, a criterium around the streets of Wellington, with a four-second lead over Strong, after winning Saturday’s tortuous fourth stage, which finished at the top of Admiral Hill.
Strong slowly ate into Fisher-Black’s lead in ever worsening conditions in the one hour plus three laps race in front of a crowd of 3000.
Heading into the final sprint on Lambton Quay, Strong held a two-second lead over teammate and yellow jersey holder Finn Fisher-Black.
However, it was Black Spoke’s Campbell Stewart who crossed the line first as the heavens opened up, with Strong second, gaining a vital time bonus to claim overall victory, while George Jackson [NZ Cycling Project] was third.
Fisher-Black finished second on General Classification, with Black Spokes Aaron Gate in third place.
The result will be bittersweet for the 19-year-old Fisher-Black, who was brilliant in winning Saturday’s “Queen Stage” in 3hrs 8mins 9secs to wear the yellow jersey into the final stage.
Fisher-Black was stoked to win the stage after chasing down a breakaway group.
“It was pretty stressful from about 60 or 70km out when we realised there was a lot more horsepower up the road than we thought there was,” he said.
“We had to get the guys into gear and put a chase on. Our guys and the Black Spoke guys rode phenomenally to bring that break back down to a manageable distance.
“I think we went into the bottom [of the climb] with a pretty good pace with Finn and Ollie [Jones] setting a good pace and about halfway up, me and Corbin decided to kick into it.
“We put enough power away to snap the rope with Black Spoke guys and once we got a gap we kept going. I suffered the last few kilometres. I am really happy.”
Stage Four: Finn Fisher-Black [NZ National team] 1, Ben Oliver [NZ Cycling Project] 2, Corbin Strong [NZ National team] 3.
Stage Five: Campbell Stewart [Black Spoke] 1, Strong 2, George Jackson [NZ Cycling Project] 3.
PROVISIONAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
Corbin Strong 1, Finn Fisher-Black [New Zealand National Team] 2, Aaron Gate [Black Spoke] 3.
Teams Jersey – New Zealand National Team
Under 23 – Corbin Strong
KOM – Luke Mudgway [Black Spoke]
Sprint – Regan Gough [New Zealand National Team].