SUBWAY® Pro Cycling’s Nick Lovegrove (Counties Manukau) and Dillion Bennett (Cycling Southland) picked up bronze medals on the final day of the RaboDirect National Club Championships in Wanganui on Sunday.
Lovegrove was involved in an exciting sprint finish in the senior men’s elite 154 kilometre road race that saw Counties Manukau rider Matt Sillars inching past Lovegrove in the final metres for the win. Andrew Hagan (Port Nicholson Poneke) was promoted to second after officials upheld a protest from the Wellington rider.
Bennett rode strongly to win a bronze medal in the Under 23 event that was won by Matt Wheatcroft from Counties Manukau. Only 13 riders out of the field of 52 finished the gruelling race.
Lovegrove said the SUBWAY® Pro Cycling riders rode to a plan but he just “didn’t have the legs to pull it off.”
“I finished second but was relegated to third after a protest by the third placed finisher. Basically I blew with twenty metres to go and deviated off my line a little bit but only lost by a few centimetres to Matt.”
Sillars, who hopes to start his contract with Taiwan-based UCI Pro Continental Asia team Giant-Kenda in Indonesia next month, timed his sprint well to win.
“I knew it would end in a small group. I sprint alright, but would have liked to have less than six riders in the final sprint,” Sillars said.
It proved an aggressive race with the lead changing many times. The peloton fractured into two groups with several riders shed over a challenging final 20 kilometres until there were only six left to contest the sprint.
SUBWAY® Pro Cycling’s Paul Odlin (Pegasus Cycling) was also in the final six but was heavily marked so Lovegrove took his chance but faded as they closed on the finish line.
The two other SUBWAY® Pro Cycling riders in the field were Sam Horgan (Pegasus) who won his first national senior title the time trial on Thursday, and Matt Gorter (Hamilton Cycling).
Horgan and Gorter had been in break with Odlin for two laps of the 22 kilometre circuit that was caught with just over two laps remaining.
The SUBWAY® Pro Cycling team’s focus now turns to the United States where it will be based between Milwaukee in Wisconsin and Chicago, the largest city in the Midwestern US, for two months from mid June.
The team’s three major focuses will be the Tour of America's Dairyland, the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove and Speedweek, a series of 17 days of criterium races across the states of Illinois and Wisconsin.