Race Report - Thursday 16 January 2020
A photo finish saw omnium elite world champion Campbell Stewart win stage two of the New Zealand Cycle Classic in Masterton today.
Stewart, racing in the silver fern of the New Zealand National team, took the 121km stage by the narrowest of margins in 2hrs 36min 15sec today - while Coupland's Bakeries Nick Kergozou fought back from a puncture to claim second. Team BridgeLane's Jensen Plowright was third with Stewart's team mate Connor Brown fourth and Liam Walsh from Australian team Futuro Pro Cycling fifth.
Plowright's third place earned him an extra time bonus today pushing him into first place on General Classification ahead of Black Spoke Cycling Academy's Aaron Gate, who won stage one yesterday. Even though the pair now sit on the same time, based on the time bonus, Plowright will begin stage three tomorrow in the yellow jersey. Plowright also retained the U23 jersey.
Stewart is part of an exciting young New Zealand team with some riders using this Tour as a build up towards their goal of selection for the Tokyo Olympics on the track. He said the final sprint was a great reward for a hard day's racing.
"It was all on for the sprint, I was kind of jostling for position and the team were all just lined up perfectly in front of me to be able to launch me onto Jensen's wheel and we also had Nick Kergozou there on the side and we kind of went for a three-way sprint. Kergy went left and I went right and Jensen was in the middle. I guess sitting on the wheel and coming out late was the key to it today," he said.
"(The margin) was very small. I train with Nick everyday out on the road, in the velodrome so know him pretty well so to be able to get that lunge and the extra millimetre, counts."
The sprint finish followed a fast race through the Wairarapa countryside that came with two other major highlights. The first was a 19 rider breakaway at 23km that lasted for seven kilometres and the second was a five-rider breakaway that began at 49km. This group included local Wairarapa rider Mark Langlands (Couplands Bakery), George Jackson (New Zealand Cycling Project), Patrick Burt (Cycle House), Genki Yamamoto (KINAN Cycling Team) and Logan Griffin (Cabjaks - Castelli). The five riders worked hard together and at one point had a massive 2min 40sec lead on the peloton before eventually being caught with 10km to go.
New Zealand Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval said today's stage was well supported by members of the public including Carterton Mayor Greg Lang seen waving the riders on. He also was thrilled to see Wairarapa rider Langlands working hard out in front.
"It was great to see Mark doing such a great job out in front. In fact, at one point I thought he was going to win the Most Aggressive Jersey but that went to Griffin again as he had an outstanding last 10km."
The New Zealand Cycle Classic is a five-stage elite international men’s road cycling race being staged in the Wairarapa from January 15th – 19th. The Tour is the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) 2.2 sanctioned race to be held in New Zealand in 2020 and is being raced just over an hour’s drive from Wellington, New Zealand’s Capital City.
It continues tomorrow with a 126.3km stage that starts in Masterton and heads south through rolling countryside to the pretty wine village of Martinborough, where riders will complete a flat, eight lap circuit.
This year's Tour Classic is made possible thanks to the generous support from Trust House, WBS, Mobile Communications Service, WIZwireless, Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega Masterton, Cross Country Rentals and Lion Foundation plus the Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils. Sandoval also wants to thank the Ulysses Motorcycle Club and the New Zealand Police for their support as well as the more than 60 specialised volunteers who carry out a variety of roles from marshalling, setting up the finish line and driving in the convoy.
Stage Two results: 121km
1. Campbell Stewart (NZ National Team) 2hr 36min 15 sec
2. Nick Kergozou (Couplands Bakery Team)
3. Jensen Plowright (Team Bridgeland).
Trust House Individual General Classification Jersey:
Jensen Plowright (BridgeLane's)
WIZ Wireless Sprints Classification Jersey:
Dylan Kennett (St George Continental)
Mitre 10 Mega Masterton King of the Mountain Classification Jersey:
Boris Clarke (EuroCycling Trips)
Fagan Motors Under-23 Classificiation Jersey:
Jensen Plowright (BridgeLane)
Mobile Communications Service (MCS) Most Aggressive Rider Jersey:
Logan Griffin (Cabjaks - Castelli)