Hawkes Bay rider Jeremy Yates broke a second race record in as many weeks to extend his lead in the BikeNZ National Road Points Series in Taranaki He took out the Round Mt Egmont Classic after a slog in fierce winds over the 150km journey, clearing out in the run home from former national champion Gordon McCauley (Counties Manukau) and teammate Tom Findlay (New Plymouth).
Yates's partner Serena Sheridan (Nelson) continued her impressive run to win the women's race and extend her lead in the national points series The 90-strong field enjoyed a flying start, as they took advantage of the tailwinds over the first 60km down the coast before turning into a powerful and tricky crosswind to Eltham and the final 50km slog home directly into the strong and cold headwinds.
Yates had to play catch up after he waited for teenage teammate Thomas Findlay who punctured after only 10km. "The field split on the first climb and Tom and I were caught in that back group. It took about 15 minutes of hard riding to bridge back up to the front group," Yates said. From there the field gradually whittled down as the power went on, until only Yates, McCauley and Findlay remained at the front of the field.
The Hawkes Bay rider pushed hard up the final climb into the city three kilometres from the finish and remained clear to win in 3:29:06, which broke the previous record held by Geoff Burndred. Burndred set the record two years ago, with 3:29:55.
Yates was happy to have survived the windy race. "I am pretty happy with that win because it was a brutal day with those winds. At the end we were all absolutely stuffed. The pace was on and it was a war of attrition but I am pleased with that win and my second race record in a row. It goes to show, I think, that we have much stronger fields this year and that means we are riding fast despite less than ideal conditions."
Yates explained that the newly created series of races benefit everybody. "The national points series is a good idea and is probably the main reason for better fields. There's a good calendar in place so the top riders can plan and all get to these races."
The former world junior champion wants to use the series to springboard back into the professional ranks with a goal to ride for his country. The plan is to head to the US next year for a six-week trial. And from there hopefully I can ride well enough to get a professional contract again and I want to ride for New Zealand at the 2010 Commonwealth Games."
McCauley will be pleased with his second placing while Findlay performance means he has closed the gap for the series under-23 title to just 20 to leader Elliott Crowther. Sheridan, who rode in the BikeNZ women's road programme this year, was in a class of her own today, riding in a competitive men's bunch to win in an impressive 3hr 55min 47sec. She is also hoping to travel with Yates to the US circuit next year, and use the road as preparation to advance into the burgeoning BikeNZ women's track programme.
The next round of the national points series is the K2 race in the Coromandel on November 2.