Benchmark coverage courtesy of CTV
With two big races on over the weekend, it was going to be an interesting test of backing up one race with another the following day. First was the Rev 120 in Hamilton on Saturday and then the Parry Field Lawyers Open Benchmark race (round two) on Sunday.
The trip started with a flight up to Auckland on the Thursday night, followed by a day sitting around the local Avanti Plus store in Mt Eden, where my Subway team mate Louis Crosbe worked. We headed down to Hamilton after he finished work on Friday night.
Morning of the Rev 120, big sleep in, as the start time was 11am, unheard of for most races in New Zealand. Nice and sunny outside while eating breakfast, conditions were looking ideal for racing. Ten minutes before the race started the heavens opened up and it pissed down. Bugger.
20km into the race I got into a small break, Gordy was in a chase group of four behind which meant I had the luxury of being able to sit in. At the 40km mark the break was caught and that's where my race ended, crashing out on a tight left hand bend, sliding along the road. A few riders who were riding my line crashed and slid into me, so after getting up and checking the body and bike I didn't have much of chance of chasing and catching the bunch. Rode back to the start a bit stiff and and sore, leaving Gordy to work his magic, which he did, riding away for a solo win. Nice.
12 hours later and I was kitting back up again down in Christchurch for the second Benchmark Homes race round. After having a bad race the day before I really wanted to come out swinging. So with nothing to lose I went about covering the early moves.
First major break to stick was around the 30km mark, myself and team mate Hayden were away with a Benchmark rider. We held our gap of about 15 seconds for a good 10-15kms of racing with the speed constantly over 48km/h and some burners at 60km/h when the wind was at our backs. This had the bunch in panic mode with a lot of teams trying to get something organised to chase us down. A few riders were spat out the back of the bunch from the effort.
We got brought back into the fold, so I slotted back into the bunch about half-way down the peloton and had a bit of a rest to recover from the hard effort. Through the feeding zone (50km mark) the bunch was starting to get strung out with people taking flyers all over the place. I started to move back up to the front to make sure I didn't miss anything. Latched onto Hayden's wheel and like a motorbike we were away, riding off the front at 60km/h - Hayden held this for about 500 meters and sent me on my way for another long solo of 10km or so. A group came up, which was good as I got to sit on and not share the work (protecting Gordy). Meanwhile Gordy was leading the charge with another group and he got up to us in no time at all.
With about 50km to go, the break had grown to about 18 riders with only me and Gordy representing Subway Avanti. We had to work overtime for a wee while, making sure no moves skipped off the front. After about 5km of attacking a solo Benchmark rider hit out - I waited for a few seconds and realised that no was going to join him, so hit out across the gap and joined the Benchmark rider. Sat on him for about 8km, while he was pushing into a block head wind.
I had heard through my earpiece that Gordy had split the rest of the bunch and was bridging across with 4 riders. Once they joined up we put the hammer down for another 10km, just to make sure no one else would be joining the front bunch again. I was feeling pretty good at this stage and thought that I could pull something special out of the bag. With 30kms to go Gordy put in a tester attack up a slight rise. Once he was caught I immediately counter attacted over the top and got a gap. Opened it up to approximately 25 seconds and kept the gap going for about 10 kilometers, hurting like hell.
Back in the chase group, Gordy could tell they were starting to weaken and hit them up a slight rise. Heard that he was coming across over the radio, so eased up and waited. Once he made the junction, the gap was only at 11 seconds, so we put on the after burners, increasing the gap to the chasers over the final 14km. I'm really happy to report that I took my first ever Benchmark race win!!!