Just last month Latham was a member of the New Zealand pursuit team racing the Track Worlds Championships in Netherlands, and on Saturday those sprinting legs gave the Te Awamutu rider an extra burst of speed to win the sprint to the line to take out the inaugural Country Road Manawatu Cycle Classic.
The Manawatu Cycle Classic was full of action and breaks during the days racing. 5x National Champion Gordon McCauley threw down his challenge early on chasing the KOM (King of the Mountain) and finish line cash. McCauley escaped up the road by over 20 seconds before being pulled back in just after the first hill climb of the day.
Race winner Peter Latham said ”Because there was so much money on offer everyone was prepared to race right from the beginning” It’s a great course, a true challenge and a great race to win”.
In the end it was Andy Hagan (Wellington) & Eric Drower (Cambridge) who were right with Latham across the line recording the same time, with David Rowlands (Wellington) in 4th, Gordon McCauley (Auckland) 5th and Aaron Strong (Auckland) 6th.
The King of the Mountains was hotly contested with James Early from Christchurch prevailing over Rowlands by just 2 points and Strong 4 points. The Polka Dot jersey overall win and 2 firsts and a third win gave Early an $1800 purse for his days work.
Finlay Brazier (Kapiti Coast) was the under 23 winner.
The women's recreational ride was hotly contested. By the end of the 160km rolling ride through the Manawatu countryside, the finish was so close it was awarded a dead heat between Suzanne Charles (Palmerston North) and Kerri Anne Torcker (Havelock North) in a time of 4hrs:28sec.
In the men's recreational race Richard Day (Pahiatua) grabbed the win in 4hrs:18min:56, Ross Watson (Wellington) rode into second and Jarin Henricksen (Palmerston North) third.
With heavy rain forecasted, race director Selwyn Brown was glad to see the riders home safely, kicking off a great inaugural event. "We've been really lucky with the forecasted rain holding off and with no wind, conditions for the ride were near perfect.
The inaugural Country Road Manawatu Cycle Classic has laid the foundation for the event that will become an epic NZ ride. Feedback has been really positive, with comments like “ The best cycle event I have ridden in, being very encouraging. I am sure the race will become an epic new Zealand ride.” Commented Brown.
"It was great to see the Elite men’s race supported by so many good resident New Zealand riders and next year the Country Road Manawatu Cycle Classic will be even better.. This event will become very strong which will be a good thing for Palmerston North and New Zealand cycling." Brown said.