Benchmark showdown looms at Oxford
An electrifying contest looms this Saturday when leading contenders Daniel Barry (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team) and Gordon McCauley (Subway – Avanti Cycling Team), together with their respective teams will showdown at Oxford in the final event of the six-round Benchmark Homes Tour elite cycling series. The 142 kilometre event will take in the undulating roads around Cust, Rangiora, Loburn, Ashley Gorge, German Road, and Oxford itself.
Barry will go into 'The Star' 5th Oxford Grand Prix protecting an eight-point lead over McCauley who is perhaps considered New Zealand's most prolific winner. However McCauley will need to rely not only on strong form, but will need to conjure up his vast experience to depose the young series leader of his lead he took from McCauley when the latter crashed out in Round Four.
Together with Dunedin-based Scott Lyttle (Cycle Surgery – Scott Race Team), Barry and McCauley have proven to be the most consistent riders of the 2009 series as evident by their standing on the points table. Both McCauley and Lyttle have each won two rounds this year as McCauley's win in Round Five brought him within one win of equally 2005 series winner Brian Fowler's record of six wins in the series format.
Whilst the day's main attention will be on securing the overall series win that is attainable only for Barry, McCauley, and Lyttle, there will obviously be the goal of winning the bicycle race for any number of riders. Whilst the above three can be considered favourites, so too are James McCoy, Leon Hextall, and Tom Hubbard (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team); Hayden Godfrey, Jason Allen, and Sam Horgan (Subway – Avanti Cycling Team); Masters classification leader Mark Spessot, and Brent Allnut (Cycle Surgery – Scott Race Team); Scott McDonnell, Stephen Elden, Brett Dawber, and Fowler (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team); Joseph and Anthony Chapman, Craig Lawn, and Ashley Whitehead (Ultimo Cycling Team); Shane Melrose and Alex McGregor (Cycling Dunedin); Robin Reid (Star & Garter – Tasman); Ruaraidh McLeod and Joshua Atkins (Cycle Surgery – Lowe & Associates); Alan Williams (Warmup Cycling Team); and Paul Odlin (Canterbury Invitational).
Women's classification leader Jeannie Kuhajek (Star & Garter – Tasman) and team-mate Karen Fulton will be favourites for first woman home. However the two leading women on the points table will have the attention of a number of other contenders for the day's prize that include Josie Giddens (Cycle Surgery – Lowe & Associates), Cathy Hamer (CYB Racing Team), Laura Thompson (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team), and Tracy Clark (Team Thule Cycling).
The UCI Continental-registered Subway – Avanti Cycling Team has all but wrapped up the Team classification, however will want to finish the series repeating its team win in the penultimate round. It competition for the day's Team prize will come from the teams of Benchmark, Ultimo, Kelford – Reiker, and Cycle Surgery's – Scott Race Team and Lowe & Associates. Team Thule Cycling, Warmup Cycling Team, and Team John Bull will continue its battle for leading Division Two team.
Round Six of the 2009 Benchmark Homes Tour starts at the Oxford Town Hall at 12noon, Saturday May 23rd.
Oxford Grand Prix previous winners;
2005 Scott McDonnell (Papanui CC)
2006 Robin Reid (Scotty Browns Racing Team)
2007 Hayden Roulston (Tinwald CC)
2008 Shane Archbold (Kelford – Reiker Cycling Team)
Points Standing after Round Five (Provisional);
1. Daniel Barry (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team/U23) 92 Points
2. Gordon McCauley (Subway - Avanti Cycling Team) 84pts
3. Scott Lyttle (Cycle Surgery - Scott Race Team) 70pts
4. Joseph Chapman (Ultimo Cycling Team) 62pts
5. Mark Spessot (Cycle Surgery - Scott Race Team/Master) 49pts
6. Joseph Cooper (Subway - Avanti Cycling Team) 44pts
7. James McCoy (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team/U23) 34pts
8. Jason Allen (Subway - Avanti Cycling Team) 32pts
9. Craig Lawn (Ultimo Cycling Team/Master) 30pts
10. Leon Hextall (Benchmark Homes Cycling Team/U23) 30pts
Papanui Cycling Club