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Langlands happy with Classic ride

Mark Langlands [red and white] attacking on stage four of the NZ Cycle Classic PHOTO/SUPPLIED


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Just making up the numbers was never the goal for Martinborough cyclist Mark Langlands in the New Zealand Cycling Classic held in Wairarapa last week.

Langlands, 32, rode for the Coupland’s Bakeries team, and finished 61st on General Classification, 11 minutes and one second behind tour winner, Australian Rylee Field.

Langlands, who had previously raced professionally from 2008 to 2012 for Pure Black Racing and Garneau-Quebecor in Canada, and then for an amateur team in France, was racing in his sixth Classic and his first since 2010.

A member of Athletics and Cycling Masterton, Langlands was satisfied with his efforts given the difficulty in balancing his job on vineyards, study for a Bachelor of Viticulture, and training for the tour.

“It was tough work juggling everything but once I got into the racing and remembered how to do it, the race went well,” he said.

One of Langland’s aims was to be aggressive and be involved in breakaways. He achieved that on the second stage from Masterton to Gladstone and return, and the tortuous fourth stage on Saturday, which finished at the top of the Admiral Hill and decided the tour winner.

“On the second day I went in with the plan to get into the breakaway and managed to get off the front with four others,” he said.

“I really wanted the ‘Most Aggressive’ jersey for Darren and Josh [Southon – the father and son who drowned at Mataikona early this month], but just fell a bit short.”

Langlands had ridden the fourth stage in the buildup to the tour and thought the best move would be to attack early and try and establish a long lead.

“I saw the opportunity at the top of Kourarau [Te Wharau Hill] the first time and went for it. It was pretty tough out there with only four others in the break, but it was the best option for the team for the last climb up Admiral.”

Langlands hit a bad patch the third time up Te Wharau Hill and dropped off in the last lap to finish back in the pack.

Sunday’s last stage, 12 laps of a 10km circuit in the west of Masterton, was disastrous for Langlands, who was involved in a crash 2.5km from the finish.

“We were travelling about 60kmh when a rider went down in front of me,” he said. “I was lucky to almost come to a stop, but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It was a disappointing way to finish and apart from a grazed arm and hip the body is in good shape.”

Langlands admitted that competing in the Classic had whetted his appetite to have another go next year.

“It’s been good to be amongst it again and it was good to be a local competing against the top riders. The other guys congratulated me on how I rode, so I would like to come back again. It would give me a goal to work towards.”

Wairarapa’s other rider Tom McCallum, who also rode for Coupland’s Bakeries, withdrew during Saturday’s fourth stage after finishing back in the field in the first three stages.

There was no rest for Langlands and McCallum, who were back in action on Tuesday night in their ACM club’s Time Trial Championship.

Langlands cut out the 40km course on Bideford Road and Whangaehu Valley Road in 58min 11sec to win the championship, more than three minutes ahead of McCallum. Dave Drummond finished third.

Belinda Fuller was fastest woman in 1hr 10.38, ahead of Emily Lutyens and Kirsten Goodin.

Langlands will next tackle the Gravel and Tar race in Manawatu on Saturday.

The UCI 1.2 race covers 140km, with 40km raced on gravel roads.

He said there are about 60 to 70 riders, with a few of the Australian teams and the Black Spoke team to back up from the NZ Cycle Classic.

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