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K2 Classic to test Kiwis

A star-studded field head to the Coromandel this weekend for the grueling RoadCraft K2 Cycle Classic. K2 is renown in mountain climbing circles as the world's toughest peak, but in New Zealand it is a grueling 200km cycle event attracting the country's best riders. Past winners include Kiwi internationals Glenn Mitchell and Fraser McMaster, American record holder John Leiswyn and Denmark's women's Tour de France champion, Linda Vilumsen.

The attraction is the European-style course and a hefty prize purse. With over 40km and 2300 vertical metres of climbing, the RoadCraft K2 combines the rigours of European cycling with New Zealand's supreme surroundings to produce a challenge that is fast becoming a favourite amongst elite and recreational cyclists alike.

Every year this unique event starts from a different Coromandel town and does one full 200k lap of the peninsula. This year racing gets underway in Tairua on Saturday.

This year the RoadCraft K2 also doubles as round four of the BikeNZ National Road Series, which is currently led by Jeremy Yates (Hast) and Serena Sheridan (Nels), who will both be on the start line at Tairua on Saturday.

Yates is the defending K2 champion and fresh from winning the national club championship and taking a top 10 finish in Australia's prestigious Sun Tour, the former world junior champion starts as favourite for this year's RoadCraft K2.

But in a tough field the Hastings builder won't be able to rest on his recent laurels. Auckland's Karl Murray currently sits second behind Yates in the national series, while talented teenager Tom Findlay (Palm Nth) is fifth. Both will be keen to topple Yates from the top spot, as will former world under-23 top 10 Peter Latham and (Ham) and American standout Omer Kem.

Kem, a full time professional on the prestigious American team, Bissell Pro, is keen to revisit K2 after finishing third in 2007 just two minutes down on Yates' record breaking ride. He may have an advantage this year too in support from his newly-signed teammate, Peter Latham, who will ride for Bissell Pro on the American circuit next year.

But the rider likely to challenge Jeremy Yates might be his brother Mathew, a former RoadCraft K2 winner on the comeback after a couple of years away from the sport.

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