The Warmup Cycling team made its presence felt at the Tour de Lakes held in Central Otago, Northern and Western Southland at Easter.
Team Manager Kelly Chapman survived a crash to win the C grade competition based on a very strong opening prologue and day three 20 km time trial. It is Chapman’s first win in a cycling event in his second season of racing.
“I was stoked to get the win,” he said. “I needed a few friends and my team mate Stephen Clearwater certainly did lots of work for me.”
In wet conditions, Chapman crashed heavily on the final day’s morning stage from Queenstown to Glenorchy after only 5 kilometres of the 40km stage, breaking his left cleat in the process. He managed to pick himself up and get back on the leading bunch to stay in contention.
“Stephen came back for me and helped me get back on. I had to stay seated and not tell anyone about the broken cleat,” he said. “If anyone knew it would have opened me up for attacks – I was happy to finish the stage and still be in yellow.”
Clearwater had his moment when he rode off the front on stage two with 15km to go to comfortably win the stage from the chasing bunch.
“It was nice to get a stage win,” he said. “I managed to win one last year so to get another one this was felt great.
Allan Williams was also in the tour leader’s yellow jersey in A grade after the prologue, and held on finish fourth on GC and take A grade’s sprint jersey. This is a significant result for William’s who is only in his second full season of road racing.
Williams also won the James Faulding memorial award for the first A Grade rider to cross the line in Glenorchy. Faulding was hit by a car while training in Dunedin a few weeks after competing with distinction in his first Tour de Lakes.
“It started well and knew I would struggle to hold onto the yellow jersey so was really pleased to have come away with the sprint ace jersey,” Williams said. “It was a really tough tour and winning the sprint into Glenorchy was a highlight.”
John McKenzie was third on CG in B grade after four stages but faded on the hilly sections on the final day slip to 9th on final CG. He had opened with the 4th quickest time in the prologue and was 5th in the time trial.
“It was a great tour and I started strongly and tried to race smart to stay in touch,” McKenzie said.
“But I just didn’t have an extra gear over the top of the tough hills and the last day was the toughest day I’ve had on a bike – I had turned myself inside out in the afternoon of day three to chase the lead bunch to limit my losses and then when we hit the hills on the final day I paid for that effort and it was a real struggle.”
“It is such a fantastic area to race a bike. The combination of fast flats, rolling terrain and tough hills make it an awesome course.”
Darcy Ellerm-Norton won the sportsmanship award for his efforts on the final Glenorchy to Mole Lake stage where the young 16 year old sacrificed a potential high stage placing to work for McKenzie, trying to keep him in touch with the leaders. The sportsmanship award in memory of young Southland Cyclist Stuart McLean.
Ellerm-Norton had had a impressive break away on day threes afternoon stage from Te Anau to Five Rivers were he rode away from the start line to only be caught after Mossburn and 60km of the 80km stage.
The young rider also was 9th in the opening prologue and 4th in the 20km time trial to underline his potential.
McKenzie has no doubt there is a bright future for the young Christchurch cyclist.
“Every tour he does he learns so much more about how to race, and race smart tactically. The way he rode away from the bunch on day three showed some real character and the way he rode for me on the final stage showed a real commitment to our team. He really does have a bright future in the sport.”
“This year’s tour had everything. We were quite lucky with the weather with rain and wind only hitting us on the morning of the final day. There were some cross winds at times but you have to expect that in Northern Southland.”
“It is a well organised tour and we have to acknowledge the support we get from family and partners. Without their support we could not compete and would not have done as well as we did.”