Wellington rider Jack Bauer snatched a thrilling victory from two major stars of New Zealand cycling in a sprint finish at the 2010 RaboPlus national road race in Christchurch on Sunday.
A huge crowd saw the 24-year-old Bauer clinch his first national road title ahead of pre-race favourites Hayden Roulston (Ashburton) and five-time Tour de France competitor Julian Dean (Rotorua). All three riders finished on the same time of 4:48:42.
It was a spectacular finish to a gruelling event that saw competitors face 13 laps and 186 kilometres, over the same course used for the 1974 Commonwealth Games.
Alongside the sprint finish, the other major highlight was the performance of 18-year-old Christchurch rider Michael Vink, who made a break on just the second lap and remained clear until the final circuit.
A group that included Roulston and Dean, who were on each other's wheels for much of the second half of the race, finally reined in the teenager who eventually finished ninth overall and fourth in the under-23 battle.
Bauer, the Tour of Southland runner-up and an eight-time winner in Belgium last year, said the title and the chance to take the coveted black jersey to his new Endura Pro Continental team in the United Kingdom was "a dream come true".
"I didn't really think I had the legs to last out there today but I managed to go with Roulston and Dean when they attacked on the hill and when we got down to a bunch of four on the last leg I hung in. It was a quality field so I'm stoked."
Roulston, who turned 29 today, said he was disappointed to miss out on the title. "I rode a pretty good race but you are limited in what you can do on your own," he said.
Dean, a strong sprinter, said he had suffered cramp on the push to the line. "I wasn't really confident about my race condition because I've just had a month off. But I got cramp in that final 150 metres, otherwise, I believe I could have got up to win."
Conditions were perfect for most of the race - mild and calm, in comparison with the strong winds that tested the women's field yesterday. However, the steep climb up Dyers Pass Rd in Cashmere soon saw the 85-strong field separated. On the second lap Under-23 time-trial winner Vink made the first significant breakaway along with fellow Christchurch rider Paul Odlin.
Despite having to change bikes and then have a puncture mended, the former Christchurch Boys' High student was the sole leader by the halfway stage and Vink extended his lead to around four minutes before Roulston turned up the pressure on the hill in the ninth lap. Bauer and Dean were among those who followed the double Olympic medallist.
Vink said he planned to make an early break so he could help his strong Subway Avanti team as much as possible.
"I'm really pleased. I thought I ran a good race and to do well here is the ultimate because it's the toughest race in New Zealand. Hopefully, I've put my hand up for Commonwealth Games and World Champs selection later in the year."
Roulston, Dean and five-times winner Gordon McCauley were among those who hailed Vink as a major new talent. "He showed guts, determination and substantial endurance," Dean said.
National time-trial champion and defending champion McCauley withdrew after nine laps saying he "didn't have the legs today".
Tom Findlay from the Bici Vida team won the under-23 title, finishing just three seconds behind the top three elite riders.
|1||Jack Bauer (Nzl) Wgtn||4:48:42|
|2||Hayden Roulston (Nzl) Msc|
|3||Julian Dean (Nzl) Wbp|
|4||Heath Blackgrove (Nzl) Msc||0:00:37|
|5||Jeremy Yates (Nzl) Ecni||0:02:20|
|6||Eric Drower (Nzl) Sub||0:07:39|
|7||Scott Lyttle (Nzl) Ota||0:11:00|
|8||Brett Tivers (Nzl) Wcni||0:12:18|
|9||Aaron Strong (Nzl) Auk|
|10||Justin Kerr (Nzl) Wbp|
|11||Nicholas Lovegrove (Nzl) Sub|
|12||Glen Chadwick (Nzl) Ecni||0:12:22|
|13||Matthew Gorter (Nzl) Sub||0:12:18|
|14||Jeremy Vennell (Nzl) Ecni||0:12:33|
|DNF||Nico De Jong (Nzl) Auk|
|DNF||Hamish Osborne (Nzl) Auk|
|DNF||Mike Henton (Nzl) Auk|
|DNF||Matt Robinson (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Karl Moore (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Clinton Avery (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Gordon Mccauley (Nzl) Sub|
|DNF||Mark Langlands (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Peter Latham (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Samuel Horgan (Nzl) Sub|
|DNF||Hayden Godfrey (Nzl) Sub|
|DNF||Joseph Cooper (Nzl) Sub|
|DNF||Sam Bewley (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Felix Laufkotter (Nzl) Wheel|
|DNF||Michael Northey (Nzl) Bici|
|DNF||Scott Wilder (Nzl) Bici|
|DNF||Jason Allen (Nzl) Tas|
|DNF||Andrew Williams (Nzl) Ben|
|DNF||Marc Ryan (Nzl) Msc|
|DNF||Michael Naylor (Nzl) Wheel|
|DNF||Anthony Chapman (Nzl) Ota|
|DNF||Caleb Hill (Nzl) Wheel|
|DNF||Jonathan Kalma (Nzl) Wheel|
|DNF||Paul Odlin (Nzl) Cant|
|DNF||James Gibson (Nzl) Cant|
|DNF||Winston Briggs (Nzl) Ecni|
|DNS||Logan Hutchings (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNS||Alex Meenhorst (Nzl) Auk|
|DNS||Carl Williams (Nzl) Bici|
|DNS||James Early (Nzl) Ben|
|DNS||Brett Dawber (Nzl) Ben|
|DNS||Marc Prutton (Nzl) Cant|
|1||Tom Findlay (Nzl) Bici||4:48:45|
|2||James Williamson (Nzl) Sub||0:00:32|
|3||Matt Marshall (Nzl) Sth|
|4||Michael Vink (Nzl) Sub||0:04:56|
|5||Roman Van Uden (Nzl) Bici||0:12:15|
|6||Thomas Hubbard (Nzl) Cant|
|7||Hamish Tomlinson (Nzl) Sth|
|8||George Bennett (Nzl) Wheel|
|9||Jesse Sergent (Nzl) Wcni|
|10||Westley Gough (Nzl) Ecni|
|DNF||Sam Steele (Nzl) Cant|
|DNF||Brad Carter (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Simon Finucane (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Wade Mangham (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Alex Mcgregor (Nzl) Ota|
|DNF||Shem Rodger (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Daniel Seagar (Nzl) Auk|
|DNF||Daniel Smith (Nzl) Auk|
|DNF||Joshua Brown (Nzl) Wcni|
|DNF||Ryan Wills (Nzl) Sub|
|DNF||Sam Weston (Nzl) Wbp|
|DNF||Colin Cornberg (Nzl) Bici|
|DNF||Alex Ray (Nzl) Bici|
|DNF||Patrick Bevan (Nzl) Bici|
|DNF||Leon Hextall (Nzl) Ben|
|DNF||James Mccoy (Nzl) Ben|
|DNF||Ruaraidh Mcleod (Nzl) Cant|
|DNF||Jason Christie (Nzl) Msc|
|DNF||Taylor Gunman (Nzl) Bici|
|DNF||Jeremy Stephens (Nzl) Ecni|
|DNF||Sean Joyce (Nzl) Bpn|
|DNF||Fraser Bermingham (Nzl) Bpn|
|DNF||Patrick Williamson (Nzl) Sth|
|DNF||Hamish Presbury (Nzl) Sth|
|DNF||Logan Edgar (Nzl) Sth|
|DNF||Daniel Barry (Nzl) Ben|