SUBWAY® Pro Cycling’s Nick Lovegrove placed second on an exciting stage three of the New Zealand Cycle Classic in Manawatu today.
Lovegrove escaped early in the 155 kilometre stage with New Zealand track cycling representative Sam Bewley, riding for the BikeNZ National team, and with Brodie Talbot (Expert Team).
The three riders quickly established a comfortable lead in cold and wet conditions, until Bewley and Lovegrove dropped Talbot with 75 kilometres remaining.
“It was a long tough day,” Lovegrove said. “There were plenty of climbs and it took a while for the bunch to let the gap go. Sam (Bewley) was strong and set a good tempo and we worked well to build a lead.”
Lovegrove said he and Bewley had to “dig deep” to hold off the chasing peloton over the closing stages of the race. At one stage the gap back to the chasing riders was over six minutes but that had closed to eight seconds by the finish line.
Lovegrove said Bewley did the bulk of the work on the run in to the finish as he was “pretty cooked” and that he simply could not match the finishing power of the Olympic bronze medallist in the sprint for line honours.
“It was good to fly the flag for SUBWAY® Pro Cycling and it gave the other guys in our team; especially Oddy (Paul Odlin), the chance to conserve energy for the next few days,” Lovegrove said.
Bewley said he had not planned on spending 140 kilometres out the front with only one or two other riders, but that it “just sort of worked out that way.”
“With Nick and I both 16 minutes down on general classification luckily the guys from Drapac team weren’t interested in catching us which definitely worked in our favour," Bewley said. "The final 30 kilometres into the wind though was the hardest 30 kilometres I’ve done in my life."
The stage result did not affect the overall leaders with Australian Darren Lapthorne (Drapac Professional Cycling) retaining the tour lead. He holds a narrow three second advantage over fellow Australian Jay McCarthy (Jayco –AIS).
Tomorrow’s penultimate fourth stage is 111 kilometre circuit stage from Palmerston North through Bunnythorpe, Awahou and Ashurst.