Riders battle the harsh conditions in race four of the North Island team series on Sunday. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Wellington cyclist Thomas Berry toughed it out to win the fourth race of the Trust House North Island Team Series on Sunday.
The 114km course for the category two riders from Rangitumau to Alfredton and return to the finish at the top of the Rangitumau Hill was challenging enough without the torrential rain and strong crosswinds that battered the riders.
With no category one race because many top riders had gone for the Tour of Southland, the second-tier riders took centre stage.
A breakaway group of three riders led by almost one minute at the Alfredton turn, but the race changed up the Dreyers Rock hill climb when the West Coast North Island team applied the pressure and caught the trio.
A group of seven started the final hill climb but Berry and iRide teammate Thomas Gulborg set a fast pace from the bottom of the Rangitumau Hill and opened a small gap. In the end, Berry held on to win from Gulborg. Anthony Nalder from Meo GP was third.
Tony Gestro from Capital Cycles attacked on the Rangitumau Hill to win the category three race by 16 seconds.
The pace was frantic from the start as a few riders tried to break away unsuccessfully.
Thirty-two riders were together for the final 3km hill climb. Riders from Pedal Project, Capital Cycles, and Madison teams were very active and only a few seconds separated them heading into the final kilometre.
Gestro’s attack was well-timed and he pulled away for a convincing win over Jeremy Salmond [Pedal Project] and Rob Kilvington [Capital Cycles].
David Jackson [Madison] was fourth, two seconds ahead of teammate and Jackson Fellows. They are now share the lead on 83 points with one race to go.
Shane Collet from Pedal Project was the strongest in a close finish in category four.
A group of five riders broke away after 10km led by Mike Thompson from Storage Manawatu who rode alone in driving rain for almost 15km before being joined by teammate Mike Dunne, Tararua Builders’ Peter James, Collet, and Leon Goodwin from Kapiti.
The breakaway increased their lead to nearly four minutes heading into the final 10km before Collet attacked halfway up the final hill and held on to beat Goodwin and James.
Race director Jorge Sandoval said Sunday’s race was demanding with strong crosswinds and rain, but in the end, all riders were happy to finish the race and happy to be able to come out, take part in a cycle race taking into consideration the issues around covid-19.
The winners of all four categories will be decided in the final race on Sunday December 4 on the Matserton-Dreyers Rock circuit.
Category Two: 1 Thomas Berry [iRide], 2 Thomas Gulborg [iRide], 3 Anthony Nalder [Meo GP]
Category leader – Caleb Bottcher [West Coast North Island]
Teams – 1 West Coast North Island
Category Three: 1 Tony Gestro [Capital Cycles], 2 Jeremy Salmond [Pedal Project], 3 Rob Kilvington [Best Build – Crown Kiwi]
Category leader – Jackson Fellows [Madison Cycle Clothing NZ]
Teams – 1 Madison Cycle Clothing NZ
Category Four: 1 Shane Collet [Pedal Project], 2 Leon Goodwin [Kapiti Cycling Club], 3 Peter James [Tararua Builders]
Category leader – Darren Murdie [Bike Manawatu]
Teams – 1 Kapiti Cycling Club