Australian talent Jay McCarthy (Jayco-AIS) had the biggest win of his young career today when he took out the New Zealand Cycle Classic in Palmerston North today.
McCarthy was strong enough in the final sprint to beat off rival Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) to seal his overall Tour win, in New Zealand’s only UCI sanctioned road tour.
“I’m very happy to come away with the win. It’s been a great tour,” said McCarthy.
“The team did everything for me. It was a hard day today. Big ups to the New Zealand national team for making it a hard race,” he said.
Kiwi track rider Aaron Gate (Auckland) took out the stage in the sprint after an aggressive day of racing from the BikeNZ national team.
McCarthy, fresh from racing the Tour Down Under, won the second stage of the tour on Thursday but did not take the overall lead until the end of yesterday’s stage, taking a three second buffer into today’s final stage.
Tough winds and an aggressive field made for a spectacular final day of racing.
A brave move by Joseph Cooper (Ricoh) posed a threat to McCarthy’s lead, however his breakaway was covered by Jayco’s Nick Aitken who ensured he did not gain the minute and a half he needed to take the lead.
“I knew there was always going to be pressure today, but it wasn’t just Drapac giving it to us. We had Joe Cooper up the road with 20 kms to go. But it made it a bit easier knowing that I had my teammate Nick Aitken up there.”
The pair were caught with 10 kms to go, forcing a bunch sprint for the line.
Cooper added the King of the Mountain title to his collection, the same title he won at this event last year, while Taupo professional Patrick Bevin took out the sprint jersey classification.
Stage 5, 111km: Aaron Gate (BikeNZ) 2:35:00, 1; Thomas Palmer (Drapac Professional Cycling) ST 2; Joe Lewis (RBS Morgans – ATS) ST, 3.
Final General Classification: Jay McCarthy (Jayco-AIS) 12:32:53, 1; Darren Lapthorne (Drapac Professional Cycling) +00.09, 2; Campbell Flakemore (Genesys Wealth Advisors) +01.17, 3.