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Stewart wins three-way dogfight

Campbell Stewart [NZ national team], left, beating Nick Kergozou [Couplands Bakery Team], far right, and Jensen Plowright [Team Bridgeland], second from right, in a blanket finish to Thursday’s Stage Two of the NZ Cycle Classic. PHOTO/DAVE LINTOTT/LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

TRUST HOUSE NZ CYCLE CLASSIC

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

New Zealand world omnium champion Campbell Stewart won an exciting sprint finish and young Australian Jensen Plowright claimed the yellow jersey, but the ride of the day went to Kiwi Nick Kergozou in Thursday’s second stage of the Classic.

Riding for the Coupland’s Bakeries team, Kergozou finished second by less than the width of a tyre in a bunch sprint at the end of the 121km stage that started and finished in Masterton.

The stage, however, began quite differently for Kergozou who had a puncture at the start.

“The flag went down and I just felt the road and I thought ‘oh no’ and having disc brakes I was hoping there was a spare wheel ready. There was, and it was a hard chase back.”

Kergozou said it took a “good 15 minutes” get back with the peloton.

“Then, when the pin was down, I was just getting yo-yoed, so it was a hard day.”

Despite the bad luck at the start, Kergozou said he felt good.

“It felt better today – just having a hard day the first day was good to get it out of the system and today was a bit better and then tomorrow hopefully I’ll just feel the same.”

Kergozou also praised teammate, Martinborough’s Mark Langlands, who was part of a five-man breakaway that put two minutes and 40sec on the peloton at 90km.

“It was awesome to see him get up the road. Having representation up there meant we didn’t have to chase so if it had stayed away he would’ve had a good shot at it. But obviously, there were a couple of teams there for the sprint and wanted it to come back,” he said.

Kergozou was confident of another good showing in yesterday’s third stage from Masterton to Martinborough but expected to be tested in today’s 175km stage that features seven gruelling hill climbs before finishing at the summit of Admiral Hill.

“Being a track cyclist, it’s probably my worst nightmare. I’ll try and get through it as easy as possible. I don’t know how easy that will be, but I’ll try and save my legs for [the final stage on] Sunday.”

Meanwhile Kergozou’s close friend, New Zealand national team rider Stewart, was thrilled to get the stage win.

“I train with Nick every day out on the roads and in the velodrome. I know him pretty well and I was able to get that lunge by about a millimetre.”

Black Spoke riders Aaron Gate [left] and Campbell Stewart, who won Thursday’s Stage 2, with young fans Bentley Black [left], Hunter Farman, and George Farman, PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Stewart said “it was very fast from a long way out” after the peloton had hauled in the breakaway.

“It was all on for the sprint and I was jostling for position. The team were all lined up perfectly to launch me on to Jensen’s wheel and we also had Nick right there beside.

“We kind of went for a three-way sprint, ‘Kergy’ went left and I went right and Jensen was in the middle, so I guess sitting on the wheel and coming out late was the key to it.”

Stewart said the stage win came as a bit of surprise as he hadn’t done a lot of sprint work.

His win would raise the team’s confidence for the rest of the tour.

“There’s plenty of opportunities for the rest of the team, in terms of climbing and GC [general classification].

“We’ve got guys in our team that are there or thereabouts, and I think they’re showing that they’re really rising to the occasion.”

Stewart rates Black Spoke, BridgeLane, and St George as the three teams to beat on the tour.

RESULTS

Stage Two – 121km – Masterton-Gladstone-Masterton

Campbell Stewart, NZ [New Zealand National Team] 2hr 36.15 1, Nick Kergozou, NZ [Coupland’s Bakeries] same time 2, Jensen Plowright, Australia [BridgeLane] same time 3.

Leading general classification [after bonuses]

Plowright 5:25.46 1, Aaron Gate, NZ [Black Spoke], same time, 2; Dylan Kennett, NZ [St George], at 1sec, 3; Campbell Stewart, NZ [NZ national team], at 7 sec, 4; Corbyn Strong, NZ [NZ national team], at 11 sec, 5; Ayden Toovey, Australia [BridgeLane] 6, Luke Mudgway, NZ [Black Spoke] 7 [both at 13 sec]; Elliot Schultz, Australia [Memil] 8, Chieng Liang Chen, Taiwan [Memil] 9, Thomas Bolton, Australia [Oliver’s Real Food] 10, Jason Christie, NZ [AISAN] 11, Kergozou, NZ 12, Hayden McCormick, NZ [Black Spoke] 13, Connor Brown, NZ [NZ national team] 14, James Oram, NZ [Black Spoke], 15 [all at 15sec].

Sprint ace – Kennett 16 points, Plowright 14, Strong 11.

KOM – Boris Clarke, NZ [Euro Cycling] 10 points, Marcus Culey, Australia [Team Sapura] 6, Logan Griffin, NZ [Cabjaks Castelli] 6.

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