Missed opportunities is how Subway – Avanti Pro Cycling team Manager Greg Hume labelled the teams efforts after competing in Marlborough’s Grape Ride and the first Round of the Benchmark Homes Series in Nelson over the weekend.
“We have high expectations in any event we compete in and we failed to achieve the results I expected with the calibre of riders we had at the weekend, but we will learn from the weekend and look forward to the events coming up.”
Young Christchurch rider Josh Atkins won the Forrest Hills Grape Ride elite race, which was the third round of the RaboPlus National Road series (NPS), with Gordon McCauley’s third, the best result for the Subway-Avanti team.
A group of nine riders were involved in the sprint finish with Atkins holding off Jason Allen and national time trial champion McCauley on a day that saw the first 26 riders all break the course record.
McCauley’s Subway Avanti teammate and current NPS series leader Matthew Gorter crashed in the tight winding finishing circuit in the sprint for the line wrecking his Avanti bike but fortunately was able to walk away with only minor injuries.
“It was a fast aggressive race with attacks all day,” McCauley said. “That’s good to see in New Zealand racing. Josh rode a smart race and his team looked after him. It was virtually impossible to split the field although we did manage to get away after Havelock.”
Subway – Avanti’s Nick Lovegrove punctured with 500 metres to go making it a tough day for New Zealand’s leading cycling team.
Gorter recovered sufficiently to ride in the opening Benchmark series race yesterday, finishing fourth in the 3rd Tasman Woollaston Classic, held on the same course as October's RoboPlus Club Nationals,
Three Under 23 Benchmark Homes Cycling Team riders took the first three places in the 10 lap race that saw a small group get away at the halfway point only to be caught with two laps of the 160 kilometre race to go; it was at this point that James McCoy launched his winning attack.
Hume felt his Subway - Avanti riders left the chase too late, saying a recently introduced rule not allowing the use of team radios made it difficult to communicate with his riders.
“Once on the last lap the time gap was one minute and I told the boys to get on the front to deliver a winner. Unfortunately we started too late and couldn’t pull the gap back. It wasn’t only us that should have lead the chase; there were 16 other teams and only one rider up the road, but that is bike racing.”
The other Subway – Avanti rider to finish in the top 15 was Joe Cooper who finished 10th.
The team next assembles in two weeks time for round four of the RoboPlus National Points series, the Kaimai Cycles 1000 in Morrisville, then round five, the Around Brunner race in Greymouth the following weekend.
The Subway – Avanti Professional Cycling Team is New Zealand’s only UCI Continental team receiving UCI status in early 2009.