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Riders face long, hard uphill haul

Riders on the Rangtitumau hill climb in the 2019 race. PHOTOS/DI CHESMAR

CYCLING

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

The hill climbers are set to dominate race four of the Trust House North Island team cycling series to be held north of Masterton on Sunday.

Dubbed the “Queen” race of the series by event organiser Jorge Sandoval, the race is over a 67km course around Mauriceville and features several hill climbs finishing with a gruelling 3km climb to the top of Rangitumau Hill.

“Race four will be really hard, and it’s the one everyone has been waiting for, and I won’t be surprised if we get new leaders in some categories after this race,” Sandoval said.

“The Rangitumau Hill has been used in the series for the past two years and promises to take many riders into the unknown.”

Wairarapa riders should come to the fore with their knowledge of the course, in particular the steep climb to the finish.

Mark Langlands, riding for the leading Coupland’s Bakeries-Booth’s Group team in category one, comes into the race in 11th place, and could move up the points table with another strong showing.

However, Langland’s first responsibility would be to protect the lead of Palmerston North youngster Madi Hartley Brown – widely regarded as one of the most promising young riders in the country.

Second-placed George Jackson and NZ Cycling Project teammate Henry Levett, in sixth place, are others expected to shine in the top division.

In category two, Brent Backhouse from Meo GP looks to be the strongest hill climber, along with Matthew Stevens from BDO Cycling and Simon Dowset from I Ride.

Only five points separate the two category leaders, Antony Nalder from Meo GP, and Bike Manawatu’s Max Fergusson.

Category three is where the Wairarapa riders could put into practice all their hard training in home territory over the past couple of months.

Rangitumau resident Dominic Green knows the hill climb finish well.

Cameron Wood from Wheelworks team is leading the category by two points form Dale Nicholls from Bike Manawatu with Tararua Builders team riders Eric D’arbois third and Rangitumau resident Dominic Green in fourth place.

A strong ride by D’arbois and Green could place them higher on classification with only one more round to go.

Tararua Builders are third in the teams’ standings on 20 points, 12 behind leaders Bike Manawatu.

Judy Cheng from the Wheelworks team leads the women’s category with Bex Hutchinson and Marisa Shubert from The Chain Breakers team in second and third respectively.

Tararua Builders are well-placed to push for the lead in category four. The team, made up of Wairarapa riders, is on 28 points, only four behind leaders Bike Manawatu.

Andrew Osmond, Peter James, and Warwick Burr are the Tararua Builders riders in the top 10, while teammate Emily Lutyens is the leading woman in 11th.

Sandoval said this is the race that local riders wanted to win, and they have a great chance.

“I know how much effort the Tararua Builders riders have put into training and preparing especially for this race over the last two months.

“I believe this Sunday could be their day if they race as a team and have all their riders in the leading bunch at the bottom of the hill. From there it is all about who has the climbing legs on the day.”

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