Kate McIIroy won her first race as an elite cyclist while Paul Odlin crossed the line first in the elite’s men’s race of the second round of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series, the Armstrong Prestige Dunedin Classic, held in Outram, today.
Former mountain running world champion, McIlroy (Benchmark Homes), who represented New Zealand at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in the steeplechase before turning her attention to triathlon where she was 10th at the London Olympics, raced for New Zealand at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games before turning her back on the international triathlon circuit last year to join the Specialized Women's Racing team in Australia.
Although she has made the podium several times this year, she was “pretty rapt” to finally make the top step in an elite women’s cycle race. “It was great to win and not come second or third as seemed to be the case for the six to eight months I’ve just been solely riding my bike, so I was really happy how it went today.”
McIIroy beat former cross country runner turned cyclist, Deborah Paine (F.A.S.T Cycling Team) from Tauranga, to win in three hours and six minutes while Hokitika’s Sharlotte Lucas (Cycle Surgery), who raced feeling the effects of a head cold, finished two minutes further back to claim third.
McIIroy’s win saw her take the series leader’s jersey off Wanaka’s Mikayla Harvey (Mike Greer Homes) who was fourth while Paine retained the series Queen of the Mountain hill climbers jersey. Annamarie Lipp (Benchmark Homes) leads the Under 19 series while Jeanie Blakemore (FAST Cycling team) did enough to take the women’s masters over 35 series lead.
At 38, Christchurch cycle coach Odlin (Tineli Invitation) was the second oldest in the elite men’s field, making him eligible to ride in the masters race, but he turned back the clock to take his first victory in the series for a number of years, winning the 134 kilometre race in three hours and fourteen minutes.
“The win was really encouraging as you have lots of ups and downs, often more downs than ups,” Odlin said. “I showed in the first round I was strong enough, so in this race I played it a bit differently, being quite conservative to the hill, and it played into my hands.”
Odlin has dominated the hill climbing King of the Mountain climbing competition in the series’ first two rounds, to take a significant lead in that jersey’s competition.
Racing for the Moore Stephens Markhams Canterbury Development team Keagan Girdlestone took another vital step back towards being competitive at the top level of the sport. The nineteen year old South African born Christchurch cyclist, who went through the window of a team vehicle in Italy last year severing his carotid artery and jugular vein and sustaining bruising to the brain that also partially paralyzed his right arm, finished twenty fifth, but more significantly, was only four minutes behind Odlin.
Riding in the master’s series for the first time after tasting success in the elite racing in previous years, Southlander Luke McPherson was an impressive overall winner, outsprinting breakaway companion and fellow 35 to 44 classification rider Yancy Arrington (Champion System), who retained the 35 to 44 classification series lead, to win the overall masters 109 kilometre race in two hours and forty three minutes.
“It was a hard day out there after a frantic start, especially after I found myself caught up in a crash in the first three kilometres, so I had to burn a few matches to get back to the bunch,” McPherson said. “Then it was all on until we managed to force a break, about 50 or 60 kilometres into the race, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of strong teammates with me and we managed to get a gap and hold that all the way, so I was really stoked to get the win.”
Glen Rewi (Christchurch Mitsubishi) was third, four minutes behind McPherson while his team mate David Rowlands lead home the chasing bunch two minutes later, to be the first 45 to 49 classification rider home, consolidating his series lead in that age group. Rewi did enough to hold into the climbers King of the Mountain series leader’s jersey.
Chris Latta (Champion System) finished ninth, but was the first over 50’s rider to finish to narrowly take that series leaders jersey off Nelson’s Chris Nicholson (Freshchoice Richmond Pomeroys) who was thirteenth, but finished behind another over 50’s rider Neil Sutherland (Protocol Mackleys).
There were a number of attacks in the elite men’s race on the flat circuits with nothing sticking until 13 riders that featured all the favourites got away on the third of the four laps of a 31 kilometre circuit. The leaders starting attacking each other on the fourth lap which saw Ben Robertson (TOtalPOS Solutions) and Matt Zenovich (Mike Greer Homes) escape, but could only build a lead of one minute as the race approached the days key 14 kilometre climb up Lee Stream Valley.
A crash approaching Outram shattered the field and the two leaders were reeled in on the lower slopes of the climb before a group of fifteen moved clear of the field. Odlin made his winning move on one of the steeper pitches of the hill with about eight kilometres left to race.
Settling into his own rhythm he held off the chasers that included Alex West (Team Skoda Racing), Jake Marryatt (Black Max Performance), Joyride Cycle Surgery team mates Corbin Strong and Ian Talbot, Scott Thomas (TotalPOS Solutions), Anthony Chapman (L & M Group Ricoh) and Tim Rush and Sam Horgan from Mike Greer Homes.
West made a late effort to bridge across to Odlin in the closing three kilometres, closing to within 30 seconds to claim second, just holding off Marryatt, who built on his Under 23 series lead, who was third. Strong claimed the series under 19 lead.
The next round is in Timaru on the 22nd of April.