Cameron Karwowski from Southland’s H&J’s Outdoor World Team won the elite men’s 159 kilometre race in today’s opening round of the Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series in Oxford, North Canterbury.
After team mate Matthew Zenovich and his breakaway companion Reon Nolan (Scotty Browns Racing) were caught with 18 kilometres to go it was a frantic run in to the finish line which saw Scott Mullaly (TotalPOS Cycling Team) attack heading into the final corner, just being pulled in and passed by Karwowski in the final metres.
“It was pretty hectic after we caught the break but we managed to get things under control and I got a good lead out and took out the win which was awesome,” Karwowski said. “Mullaly had a good gap into the last corner so I was lucky to bring him back; it was close at the end.”
Karwowski won in three hours and 46 minutes with Brad Evans (Team Calder Stewart Racing) coming second and claiming the Under 23 classification jersey with Mullaly holding on for third.
Zenovich and Nolan had broken away with James Williamson (L & M Group Ricoh) and Daniel Ellison (Tasman Wheelers) on the first ascent of Summerhill after only 20 kilometres of racing before the pair dropped Williamson and then Ellison.
They had built a lead of over five minutes before the chasing peloton got organised and reeled them in. Karwowski’s H & J Smith’s team had enjoyed an easy time in the main bunch not having to contribute to the chase with Zenovich in the break; something Karwowski said was part of their pre race planning.
“In this race series you definitely have to have someone in the break as we’ve seen over the past couple of years it’s become more team orientated so guys are learning to race more as a team so we like to have one or two guys in the break at all times. We’re lucky that Matt loves going in the breaks and smashing it so it worked well for us.”
Karwowski remains focused on the track with his sights still set on making the New Zealand Olympic Games track cycling team for Rio in 2016. He has had three months of intensive track racing having raced as part of the BikeNZ endurance track team in January’s World Cup event in Mexico and has the national track championships in Cambridge starting on March 11.
His race programme means he won’t be able to defend the tour series elite leader’s jersey. The Southland based rider who hails from Nelson heads to Europe in April to take up a contract with a Belgium based Continental team which will see him overseas until October, just in time to make the last race in the series, the Hell of the South, in Selwyn, Canterbury.
Thirteen riders got away with 15 kilometres left of the masters 120 kilometre race. Scott Wilder (Dad’s Army) won in a time of two hours and 57 minutes beating Wayne Smythe (Sport Canterbury Racing) and Glen Gould (Armstrong Subaru) in a sprint finish.
Wilder leads the 35 to 44 age group classification while Dunedin’s Cycle World’s Paul Gough, who finished sixth, and Ray Dunstan, who was twelfth, won the 45 to 49 and over 50 series leaders jerseys.
With 102 riders the master’s race was the largest field and featured a number of riders only recently out of the elite ranks. A number of attacks were shut down before the final one stuck in the closing kilometres in the Ashley Gorge.
Elyse Fraser (Benchmark Homes Team) won the women’s 120 kilometre race in impressive fashion, getting away to hold on to win in three hours and twenty five minutes, one minute and forty five seconds ahead of Reta Trotman (Cycle World Fairweathers), Tracy Clark (Vidasana Thule) and Georgia Catterick (Cycle World Fairweathers) who won the Under 19 classification.