New Zealand National team’s Finn Fisher-Black,19, who is the junior pursuit world record-holder and is set to join the development team of Jumbo-Visma, moved into the Yellow Jersey after winning today’s “Queen Stage” in 3hr 08min 09 secs. Fisher-Black took the yellow jersey off Black Spoke’s Luke Mudgway and will head into tomorrow’s fifth and final stage on general classification with a four second lead over teammate Corbin Strong. Black Spoke’s Aaron Gate is now third place on GC after finishing in sixth place today.
Fisher-Black was stoked to win the “Queen Stage” over New Zealand Cycling Project’s Ben Oliver who came in second place and Strong, who finished third. But he admitted he went into a “dark place” during the final three kilometers which snaked up the steep Admiral Hill in Gladstone. This followed 124km of racing over a challenging hilly, rural course with much of his time spent chasing a breakaway.
“It was pretty stressful from about 60 or 70km out when we realised there was a lot more horsepower up the road than we thought there was,” he said. “We had to get the guys into gear and put a chase on. Our guys, and the Black Spoke guys rode phenomenally to bring that break back down to a manageable distance. I think we went into the bottom (of the climb) with a pretty good pace with Finn and Ollie [Jones] setting a good pace and about halfway up, me and Corbin decided to kick into it. We put enough power away to snap the rope with Black Spoke guys and once we got a gap we kept going. I suffered the last few km’s. I am really happy.”
Riders left Masterton this morning and went straight into a hard pace sitting on 63km/h with plenty of action off the front from Black Spoke, Cycling New Zealand and New Zealand Cycling Project. Heading into the first of three major climbs for the day, New Zealand National team’s Ollie Jones took the KOM and was part of a group who tried to form a breakaway, but it didn’t stick.
It wasn’t until around 31km that a breakaway formed and by 63km, this group of riders had 3min 50secs on the peloton. The breakaway included Black Spoke’s Campbell Stewart, Coupland’s Bakeries Glenn Haden, St George’s Bailey O’Donnell who won the second KOM, NZ National team’s Bailey O’Donnell, NZCP’s Theo Gilbertston and 18-year-old Christchurch high school student Jack Drage, Cycling NZ’s Ryan Christensen, Trust House’s Mark Stewart, Kiwi Velo’s Logan Currie, Next Gen’s Oliver Grave and Fruzio Development’s Ari Scott.
While this group reached up to speeds of 90km/h as they came off the back of Te Wharau hill, they were able to maintain their lead over the peloton. However, around 91km into the stage, the breakaway fractured with Stewart, Christensen, Drage and Gilberston forming their own attack. Meanwhile the peloton was chasing hard and by 112km had closed the gap to 1min 40sec.
It was Christensen who led the breakaway up Admiral Hill but meanwhile all the action was unfolding behind him as Black Spoke and the NZ National team began to line up their riders to attack the hill. Fisher-Black and Strong rode together and eventually caught Christensen and Drage, eventually passing them halfway up while NZCP’s Ben Oliver timed his own attack to perfection.
In the end it was Fisher Black who crossed the line first, with Oliver coming in seven seconds behind and Strong in third place. Black Spoke’s hard work earlier in the day saw Aaron Gate cross the line in 6th place followed by St George’s Michael Vink.
Due to a technical error with the GC results, which resulted in a full audit being completed after the race, Strong was actually presented the yellow jersey at the top of Admiral Hill. During this presentation held in front of spectators who stood in a farmer’s paddock he thanked his teammates including Laurence Pithie, Regan Gough and Reuben Thompson for helping him and Fisher-Black take to the podium.
“We’ve had an awesome week. Regan has had two stage wins and Finn today and we all work for each other. But the race is not over yet … I’m aware we’ve another day tomorrow and it’s going to be a hard race for sure.”
The UCI 2.2 NZ Cycle Classic concludes in Wellington tomorrow with a city circuit race around Lambton Quay. Riders will race for one hour plus three laps.
Earlier in the day a fun new community event called Cycle the Golden Mile will be staged on the same circuit and includes children’s races and a celebrity circuit featuring Wellington Deputy Mayor Sarah Free, former Wellington Mayor Celia Wade Brown, National List MP Chris Bishop, Carterton Mayor Greg Lang, Hurricanes mascot Captain Hurricane and Greg O’Connor, Labour MP for Member for Ōhāriu and chairperson of the Transport and Infrastructure Committee. They will line up at 10.30am and be joined by and other Wellington sporting mascots Leo and Flossie.
The 2020 NZ Cycle Classic can take place thanks to the generous support from Trust House, Wellington City Council, Mobile Communications Service, Wizwireless, Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega Masterton, Cross Country Rentals, Tineli and Lion Foundation plus all three Wairarapa District Councils.
UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic Stage Four placings.
1. Finn Fisher-Black, NZ National team
2. Ben Oliver, NZ Cycling Project
3. Corbin Strong, NZ National team
Provisional Classification Jerseys
Trust House Yellow Jersey: Finn Fisher-Black, NZ National team
Fagan Motors Under 23 Jersey: Finn Fisher-Black, NZ National team
WIZWireless Points Classification Jersey: Regan Gough, NZ National team
Mobile Communication Service Most Aggressive Rider Jersey: Ryan Christensen, Cycling New Zealand team
Mitre 10 MEGA King of the Mountains Jersey: Luke Mudgway, Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy