Thursday, January 26, 2012

NZ Cycle Classic – Stage Two

Stage two got underway in the NZ Cycle Classic taking in a 143.3km loop around some scenic country roads of the Manawatu region. It was always going to be a tough day in the saddle with the General Classification results being so tight, every team was going to be trying to get away and make it stick in order to take the overall lead.

From the gun, riders tried to get off the front but it took around 30km for a selection to stick with a group managing to stay away which included Joseph Cooper from Team Ricoh.

The first KOM climb quickly came around at just over the 50km mark and was won by Joe which was a great start in this classification – soon, many other riders were beginning to bridge across to the break and it quickly became a group of 20 riders with most of the major teams represented. At this point Ricoh had two riders in this group – Joe who had been joined by Darren Rolfe (who later punctured and was in for a long day of chasing to finally get back on).

2012 NZCC stage2-13

The second KOM came around at the 73km mark which Joe also won putting him in the lead of the King of the Mountain classification which would also see him in the jersey with there being only two KOM climbs during the stage.

This bunch set about their work and at one point had well over five minutes lead on the main peleton. Back in the peleton Mitchell Lovelock-Fay was having a rough day puncturing and then having two further wheel changes however all was not lost as he got in a bit of TT training chasing to get back on after these changes!

Up the road to Joe’s group, two riders managed to break off the front and this proved to be the winning move of the day with the bunch not being able to catch them – however a marshal insufficiently directed the chasing bunch, causing the majority of them to miss the right hand turn to the home straight at around 5km to go (Joe included).

This didn’t help the chasers cause! In this confusion the chasing bunch split as people had begun to tire and fought to get their position back.

Joe went on to cross the line in 8th place a little over a minute back from the winning pair or riders.

2012 NZCC stage2-16

So all in all a great day for Ricoh – 8th place in the race and the KOM jersey on the shoulders of Joe for tomorrow. Joe also managed to move up a place on the overall general classification and is now in 5th place, 1min 36 seconds off the lead with Team Ricoh sitting in 5th place on the team classification.

Tomorrow should be another interesting day with Stage three taking in a similar course to today, but in reverse.

Thanks to Adrian Rumney for the pro photos.

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