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27 Oct, 2015

All eyes will be on a 1.1km section of gravel road in the Wairarapa this weekend when it is ridden on during the third round of the Trust House North Island Team Cycling Series.

Race director Jorge Sandoval says for the first time in any men’s road cycling race held in the Wairarapa, a section of the 17km circuit located on the outskirts of Carterton, will feature 1.1km of gravel road. Mr Sandoval says with elite riders having to complete seven laps of the 17km circuit and the master’s grades doing six laps, the gravel road will have a major impact in the race.

“Racing on gravel roads could make or break anyone’s lead as punctures and crashes are easier to occur, says Mr Sandoval. “Riders will have to concentrate more as bikes respond different to gravel roads and the riders’ bike handling skills will play a major part. Team managers will also have to make sure their team mechanics are on hand for any requirements every time they go past this point in the circuit.”

Mr Sandoval says racing on gravel is becoming popular in major cycle races overseas, especially in races like Tour de France, Giro de Italia and the other major one day races who try to emulate cyclists of years ago racing entirely on gravel road.

Several leading riders are looking forward to the new circuit on Saturday and they all have their own ideas of what may happen.  

Wellington’s David Weaver, who is currently in second place in the elite grade, is feeling confident about riding over the gravel, despite never having raced on it before.

“It's something a bit different for most of us.  I haven't raced on gravel before but I've done a lot of riding on other gravel roads in the Wairarapa during training so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise. I expect it will split up the race a bit, although in the elite field we haven't had any trouble splitting up the last two races,” says Weaver.

Five times New Zealand champion and Bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Gordon McCauley, also racing in the elite race, should be one of the riders to watch.

“I'm looking forward to the next round of the Trust House series. I won the Wellington Centre road champs on virtually the same course earlier this year and with the addition of 1.1km of gravel each lap, it should make the racing really exciting,” says McCauley.

“It becomes more of a thinking race, it's not just positioning and a strong team that make the difference but also wise tyre choice, correct pressure and how you use your team that can make the difference. Even the role of your team support becomes critical, I really excited and looking forward to ripping it up.”

David Meo, racing in the Masters two grade for Kiwivelo team, won all five races in last year’s series and has won the first two races in this year’s series. He is looking to cement his lead this Saturday.

“The gravel section will offer a new dimension to racing not often seen in Wellington. It's a real skill to be able to ride gravel on a road bike … lines and positioning are key.  It will make for a far more interesting road race and I'd expect the peleton to be in tatters after several laps through the gravel sections,” says Meo.

Local riders, Lyle Cummings from Tararua Builders team is in second place in Masters one with Ben Knight in eleventh place.  The local Trust House HVC team best rider is Jeff Saywell.

This Saturday is a perfect opportunity for people to come out and watch the race with great vantage points for spectators either at the gravel section on Upper Belvedere Road or top of the hill on Hururua Road. 

The race starts in Norfolk Road, just on the outskirts of Carterton, at 10.00am. Elite riders will complete seven laps of the 17km circuit (completing a distance of 130km) and the master’s grade will complete five laps of the same circuit.


Leading Riders after race two of the Trust House North Island Series:

Trust House Elite

Nick Bain                    Team Skoda Racing

David Weaver             Wheelworks Handcrafted Wheels

Joel Yates                   Team Skoda Racing


Trust House Under 23

Nick Bain                    Team Skoda Racing

Joel Yates                   Team Skoda Racing

Matt Webb-Smith        GMC Coaching


Mitre 10 Mega Masterton – Masters One

Andrew Young            iRIDE Uno

Lyle Cumming            Tararua Builders Racing

Chris Stephenson       Rivet Racing Masters


Mitre 10 Mega – Masterton – Masters Two

David Meo                  Kiwivelo

Steven O’Keefe          PNP Masters

Neil Harwood              Optimal Performance

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