Christchurch cyclist Sam Horgan won the Hokitika Classic round of the Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series today.
Coming off recent racing in the Tour of Gippsland near Melbourne for his UCI Australian Continental team Budget Forklifts, Horgan rode smartly and says he ‘sensed the time was right’ to bridge across to a dangerous looking break on the first lap of the 135 kilometre elite men’s race, and after that it ‘became a race of attrition.’
“I knew I had some form after finishing fifth on GC (general classification) in Australia and I knew the early break that had formed was a danger as it had all of the teams represented.”
Horgan bridged across to the leaders as the riders climbed the Staircase set of hills for the first time, and then settled into his work as the break gained steady time on the chasing peloton.
“We all worked really well together and just kept putting more time into the main peloton. Everyone was contributing; no one was sitting on, and the time gaps just kept going up.”
With a lead of over four minutes to chasers Jason Christie (Team Calder Stewart), and L & M Group Racing’s Anthony Chapman and Brent Backhouse and another four minutes back to the main peloton, Horgan attacked on the final climb up the Blur Spur to whittle the leaders down to four riders. Young 17 year old Adam Bull (Homestyle Team), Ian Smallman (Scotty Brown Vision Systems) and Tim Rush (L & M Racing) combined with Horgan to consolidate their lead.
“It was a great combination,” Horgan said. “All were honest bike riders so everything worked out. We all worked well and quickly put some time into the guys we dropped from the lead.”
Over the closing kilometres Smallman attacked several times but was pulled back and coming out the final corner Horgan timed his sprint well to finish ahead of Smallman, Rush and Bull, winning in three hours and fifteen minutes.
“I was confident I could win the sprint,” Horgan said. “It was great to race in Benchmark Homes colours again. It was the team I started riding for and the win was a great way to replay the team for their early support.”
Scott McDonnell (Team Thule Cycling) won the masters race in impressive fashion, breaking away after only 15 kilometres of racing.
“I attacked early just to draw out the chasers and make things easier for my team mates in the bunch, but after I won the King of the Mountains I just kept it going,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell was eventually joined by his teammate Brad McFarlane, Stu Lowe (High 5 CFO) and Tim McClurg from Armitage Williams. McDonnell and McFarlane then attacked on the final climb up the Blue Spur, dropping the two other riders, and then worked together to the finish that saw McDonnell out sprint his team mate to win in three hours and thirty four minutes. Lowe finished third, one minute and 13 seconds behind the winners.
“I was really happy to take the win,” McDonnell said. “It was a good team result and consolidates things at the top of the team and individual leader boards for us.”
Hayley Mercer (Benchmark Homes) won the women’s 105 kilometre race ahead of her breakaway companion Laura Fairweather (Altherm Window Systems) with Sharlotte Lucas finishing third.