Palmerston North turned on the rain this morning and as the riders rolled out for the 154km race the peloton was a sea of rain coats. Neutralised until the riders reached the outskirts of town then racing was underway. At around the 10km mark in heavy rain there was a crash which left a lot of riders scrambling for spare wheels to get back on their bikes and fight their way back into the peleton.
With a sprint coming up at around the 15km mark the pace lifted as riders tried to break clear to claim the points on offer – three riders managed to do this claiming the points and continuing to ride off the front of the main peleton. This was a lead that they managed to hold for a considerable amount of time picking up the KOM points on the way. This was great for us as the three riders had not scored any points in the KOM competition yesterday so it meant that Joe would stay clear to keep the KOM jersey for another day.
Around the 80km mark having been away in the three man break for around 70km one of the riders was dropped from the break and re joined the peleton. At this point there didn’t seem any pressure from the main peleton to chase down the breakaway of two (Sam Bewley of the NZ National Team and Nick Lovegrove from Subway) as they were well down on the general classification and not a threat to the yellow jersey.
As the race turned and headed towards Fielding the speed picked up to around 70km/h as the peleton benefited from a solid tailwind. With 10km to go the break still had over a minute on the peloton who had slowed and didn’t appear too interested in chasing. Nek minut the peloton changed their mind and began closing in on the break in the final km's.
However it was to be the breakaways day as they managed to finish clear of the peleton with Sam Bewley taking the win, Nick Lovegrove second and Patrick Bevin winning the bunch kick for 3rd place. All of Team Ricoh’s riders finished with the chasing bunch.
Thanks to Keith from Ricoh who came along in the car and got to experience being a part of the race convoy with us, it was great to have some company!
No doubt tomorrow will be another day of attacks with the general classification still being fairly tight in regards to time. Joe will look to retain his KOM jersey and hopefully Palmerston North will bring the sun out again for us!