Race director Jorge Sandoval predicts the hillclimbers will come to the fore in the final race of the Trust House North Island Team Series to be held on Sunday.
Riders in all three categories will tackle an 84km course from Henley Lake to the bottom of Dreyers Rock Road, and then return via Whangaehu Valley Road and Bideford, however, it’s the last 15kms of the hilly circuit that Sandoval expects
to be the game changer.
“It will be a very challenging race, and the 1.5km hill on the way back from Bideford is not long but steep, and I am sure the hillclimbers will come to the front,” Sandoval said.
“The race leaders may have to have a good lead to feel confident going into the final race to secure the title, but there is also the team’s competition where riders need to finish in the top 10 places to secure a good team’s outcome.”
The category two championship has been a tussle over the last two races between current leader Sam Wade from West Coast North Island [WCNI] on 64 points and Meo GP teammates Tom Gollins [61 points] and Antony Nalder .
Wade and Gollins need to win the race to secure the title. WCNI have already locked away the teams’ title.
In category three, the fight for the title is also close, with only five points separating leader Chris Harris [Manawatu Cycling] and second-placed Jeremy Salmond [Pedal Project]; however, Sandoval said neither are strong climbers, and that could open the door for two local riders.
“They struggled in race four going up Rangitumau Hill, and with riders facing a few hills over the last 15km this Sunday, that opens the opportunity to other riders such as Masterton father and son Derek and Caleb Roberts riding for Capital Cycles to climb up the final classification and potentially take the title.”
Caleb Roberts goes into the race in third place on 66 points, nine behind Harris, and Derek Roberts is a further two points adrift.
The teams’ competition is also close, with Pedal Project leading Capital Cycles by 10 points.
The Kapiti Cycling Club have dominated category four and look almost certain to wrap up the individual and team titles, with the top four riders in the individual standings, headed by Bertie McGuigan, who leads by six points from Rhys Evans and Euan Mason.
McGuigan had shown in previous races that he is a strong hillclimber and Sandovals expects the young rider’s teammates to protect his lead and pick up enough points to secure the teams’ championship.
The category two race will start at 10.15am Sunday followed by category three at 10.30am and category four at 10.40am.