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Top riders take gravel race

Masters two leader Matthew Stevens leading the bunch on the gravel section. PHOTO/DI CHESMAR


A 3km section of gravel was not enough to halt the charge of the top riders in Sunday’s third race in the Trust House Team Series.

The race took place in South Wairarapa with riders in all three masters grades racing from Martinborough to Tora and back.

Warm, sunny conditions greeted the riders and the action started very early in the masters one grade with a group 15 riders breaking away up the 5km hill climb near Tuturumuri, on their way to Tora.

Riders from the Wheelworks Handcrafted team were the instigators in setting the pace up the hill and at the top there were five riders almost a minute in front of the bunch, four of them from Wheelworks.

Those five rode together to the turn, on the way back climbing the same hill but in the opposite direction, with Andy Hagan winning the race, teammate Callum Kennedy in second place and Fitlab rider Steve Bale in third.

PNP rider Brendan McGrath produced a good chase to come in fourth place – almost two minutes down on Hagan – but it was enough to gain 18 points to take the Trust House series lead with two races remaining.

In the masters two grade the action also started early with a bunch of six riders breaking away almost from the start of the first hill climb.

By the halfway mark they had managed to build a lead of more than a minute, with the bunch chasing hard on the way back from Tora.

Jason McCarthy from PNP team and Dean Gault from the Pak’n Save team did most of the work at the front of the bunch but in the end the front riders proved too strong and managed to stay away. In the end it was a five-man sprint with Cliff Hughes from Lonestar Palmerston North team taking the race, with Rob Kilvington from PNP second and Huib Buych from Total Home Theatre in third place, and the main bunch over a minute behind.

Series leader Matthew Stevens, despite a puncture in the last 20km, managed to finish in 14th place to keep the Trust House leader’s jersey for at least another race.

In the masters three grade the race was as exciting as the other two.

The hill also split the field with a small group of strong climbers going away and managing a lead of almost a minute from the chasing riders at the halfway point.

Two riders contested the final sprint with Kevin Hart from Velo Ronny’s coming in first, with masters three leader Ian Painting from the Kiwivelo team in second place to extend his lead in the series.

Oliver Ferry from Optimal performance come in third place.

The fourth race of the North Island Series is Saturday, November 10.

It is the “Queen Stage” of the series with riders facing the first top of the mountain finish of the series.

Riders will race from Rangitumau, towards Alfredton and Tiraumea via Mauriceville and Dryers Rock, before returning to the finish at the top of Rangitumau hill.

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