Olympian Marc Ryan from Scotty Browns Vision Systems rode away from his breakaway companions to win the final round of the Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series on the iconic 127 kilometre Hell of the South circuit in the Selwyn District near Christchurch today.
Making his first appearance in the six race series Ryan was part of a 10 rider break and with 10 kilometres remaining and the pressure mounting after several unsuccessful attacks he managed to break free to win the race in two hours and fifty three minutes, 19 seconds ahead of Dylan Kennett (Breads of Europe All About Plumbing) who won the bunch sprint from Scotty Brown’s Jason Allen, Hamish Schreurs (Benchmark Homes) and Cameron Karwowski (H & J’s Outdoor World Avanti Plus).
Sam Horgan (Benchmark Homes) beat Joe Chapman (L & M Group Racing) in a tight sprint to claim sixth to secure the overall series win.
Racing featured two gravel sections which played defining roles on the flat course, named the ‘Hell of the South’ as a nod to Paris-Roubaix, one of cycling’s oldest and best known one day races, called the ‘Hell of the North’ due to its rough terrain and cobblestones.
“We always expected the gravel to play a decisive role and it certainly was absolutely brutal and made all the difference to the day’s results,” Horgan said. “It just split the bunch up into lots of smaller groups and I was just pleased to be at the front where the action was happening.”
World Tour professional Hayden Roulston used the race as a hard training day for his participation in the Tour of Beijing that starts on Friday next week, rolling in tenth with his Team Calder Stewart team mate Shane Archbold, almost four minutes behind Ryan.
Glen Gould (Calder Stewart Masters) beat Thule’s Scott McDonnell in a sprint finish to win the masters race in three hours and eighteen minutes after the two riders broke away in the first 20 kilometres of racing. Brad McFarlane (Team Thule Racing) finished eleventh which was enough to claim the overall master’s classification title ahead of Kiwi Style Bike Tour’s Glenn Rewi. Dunedin’s Mark Spessot (Cycle World) was eighth and won the masters over 45 classification for the series.
Olympic track cyclist Lauren Ellis held out her Benchmark Homes team mate Sharlotte Lucas to win the 99 kilometre women’s race and claim overall series honours. “It was just such a great series,” Ellis said. “The team rode really well together and it’s great to get the overall series win. The gravel certainly made it tough today.”
Sophie Williamson (H&J's Outdoor World), finished third ahead of Laura Fairweather and Racquel Sheath of Altherm Window Systems.
H & J Outdoor World Avanti Plus was an impressive winner in the days opening Faringdon eight kilometre Team Time Trial, being the only team to go under ten minutes, recording nine minutes and fifty eight seconds. The fastest master’s team was Calder Stewart masters while Altherm Window Systems won the women’s team time trial.