Strong team efforts saw Connor Brown win the men’s race and David Rowlands dominate the master’s race while Sharlotte Lucas was an impressive women’s winner in today’s Nelson Bays Motor Group Nelson cycle Classic.
Racing over 65 kilometres Brown got away early with his Team Škoda Racing team mate Finn Fisher-Black and PKF Waterproofing Concepts Andrew King. The three riders quickly went to work to build a lead of almost one minute after 34 kilometres of racing that grew to over two minutes as they approached the day’s key climb of Neudorf Hill.
Brown and Fisher-Black dropped King on the climb and then it was Brown who crossed the line first in one hour and 18 seconds while King held on for third.
“The whole team was really strong and we came in with a clear plan to win and executed it really well,” Brown said. “Finn and I were strong and felt good, so it was just a matter of time and gauging our effort as team mates to take the win.”
Riding for Cycle Surgery Lucas continued the good form she showed recently racing in Australia’s National Road Series, showing good strength to bridge across to a chasing bunch of master’s men on a small climb and then comfortably slotting in as they chased lone leader David Rowlands who had escaped the combined masters and women’s field after only five kilometres of racing.
“I’ve got good legs after recent hard racing in Australia and was happy to get in the key masters men’s break,” Lucas said. “I thought it could be the winning move so wasn’t going to miss it. I’m pretty happy to take the woman’s win and look forward to carrying this form into the rest of the year.”
Lucas was the first women home in one hour and twenty seven minutes while Rowlands crossed the line two minutes ahead with his Christchurch Mitsubishi team mates completing the podium with Glen Rewi finishing second ahead of Stu Lowe. Mike Greer Homes Women's Cycling Team mates Niamh Fisher Black and Ella Harris completed the women's podium.
Rowlands showed the form that earned him a silver medal in last month’s UCI Gran Fondo world championships in France, attacking early and soloing to a well-earned win, saying it was “nice to still have the form after coming back from Europe.”
“”The legs felt good and it was a shortened race so I wanted to go hard early and see what would happen,” Rowlands said. “Getting away gave my Mitsubishi team mates the chance to fill the rest of the podium, so it worked out well for the team.”
Due to snow falling on the Main Divide with more widespread rain and snow in the forecast, the race was shortened and the various grades combined into two races with no points available as part of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series.
The series attracts riders from throughout New Zealand with many having to travel north to Nelson and cross either Lewis or Arthurs Pass, so in the interests of the safely of those having to travel and to protect the points standings of riders not able to make it to Nelson, the Nelson Bays Motor Group Nelson Classic was still held but no Calder Stewart Cycling Series points were available.