Sunday, January 29, 2012

NZ Cycle Classic – Stage Five

2012 NZCC stage 5-1

It was clear from the get go today that the wind was going to play a huge factor in today’s race... right from the gun the pace was on and in the first 20 or so km's there where continuous attacks as riders tried to establish themselves off the front.

Two riders managed to ride clear and at one point they had around 30 seconds on the main peleton before being caught just before the first KOM climb of the day.

2012 NZCC stage 5-23

This was taken out by riders who wouldn’t have an impact on the classification so it worked to our favour taking the pressure off Joe and securing the overall King of the Mountain classification for Team Ricoh.

The peleton continued to hit some high speeds on the fast descent and turned back out onto the main road where the pace continued as the race progressed towards the intermediate sprint points. With this acceleration there were riders who were quickly shelled off the back as they battled in the gusty crosswinds. The sprint was won by Tom Scully with Patrick Bevin in 2nd which helped him out in the final battle for the green jersey.

2012 NZCC stage 5-17

As we turned back to head around the loop again the pace increased with the race being strung out in the windy conditions which at this point was a mix of a strong cross and head winds. Teams continued to make attacks with nothing sticking. The peleton never really letting any break get out to much over 20 seconds and the race staying pretty much together.

That was until we got word over race radio that Ricoh rider Joe Cooper had got on the front and was driving the peleton hard. It was at a point in the race when he did a considerable amount of damage blowing the peleton apart, putting a huge amount of pressure on the bunch at around the 65km mark.

Joe continued to attack as he headed up the climb taking Jayco rider Nick Aitken with him as they rode off the front. Joe collected the full KOM points on offer much to the delight of Keith from Ricoh Palmerston North who was out on the course.

They continued to lap it out for the next 30km also picking up the sprint points on offer as they raced towards the finish.

It was a nervous time back in the car as we had it reported that Drapac had got on the front to try and reel Joe and Nick back in and with only a 30 second buffer it was always going to be a huge ask for them to stay away in the tough conditions and with just under 10km to go they were caught.

What followed was more attacks off the front, but with no one managing to stay clear the stage was destined to end in another bunch sprint. In the final run into town the Bike NZ team got there impressive lead out train into action and delivered Aaron Gate to the line for the stage win.

2012 NZCC stage 5-18

It was a pretty successful tour overall for Team Ricoh with Joe finishing 12th in the General classification 1:52 off the winner. He also took out the King of the Mountain jersey and was 4th in the Sprint classification with the team also managing an impressive 5th on the team classification – with only overseas UCI registered teams ahead of us.


Team Ricoh

Thanks very much to Ricoh for their fantastic support throughout the tour, Chuck Buckley the mechanic and Jorge Sandoval for another great NZ Cycle Classic.

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