Under 23 roadie Alex Ray blitzed the Auckland Championship titles yesterday, taking the race overall and in doing so became the new U23 Champion and one to be watched by the elder statesmen of Auckland cycling.
With a vicious attack on the final part of the climb up the Bombay Hill to the finish, the Under 23 rider out sprinted Karl Murray to win the race, but not the senior title. That went to Murray. Ray of course took the Under 23 honours
The race was run over six laps of a course in the Ramarama, Paerata, Runciman area that used to be used for the Auckland 1000, but like all the other events, the last six kms continued south on the Old Great South Road, under the southern motorway and finished with a climb up to Bombay.
The rolling course has a long drag up Burtt Rd towards Paerata and then two short climbs on Tuhimata Rd, before a roller coaster and tailwind plunge down Runciman Rd to the flat section of the 23 kms lap.
Despite the organisers best intentions, several titles were decided by bunch sprints of various sizes.
In the absence of Gordon McCauley chasing prize money in Northland, Murray was dominant right from the start, going away in an early break with Nico de Jong virtually straight from the start.
When a small group bridged up to them on the third lap, their minute advantage disappeared and the rest of the bunch who reacted, with Aaron Strong leading the rest of the contenders back to the front.
Numerous attacks were unsuccessful, but by the last lap a bunch of six had formed, including Murray, Rae, Strong and Carl Williams.
Rae and Murray managed to unload Strong before the final climb up to Bombay and Aaron had to be content with runner-up spot to Murray with Williams third. There was another gap back to visiting Michael Torckler and Sheldon Gorter, who took out the other U23 medals.
The woman's 4 lap race became one of attrition, that brought a trio to the top of the final climb, with its slightly uphill sprint for those who still had any legs. First year senior Emily Collins still had more than enough petrol in the tank to overcome Mel Burke and Marina Duvnjak.
The Under 19 men's race saw three Counties Manukau club mates, Scott Mullaly, Fraser Bermingham and Sam Lindsay sprinting for the medals, while Kate Chilcott also had more fast twitch fibres than Lillie Summerville in the U19 women's event.
And a devastating burst from Gary Ulmer was too much for the combined Masters 5,6 and 7 field in the final 300 metres for him to take the Masters 7 title for another year.
Stu Imrie rode away from the Masters 3 contenders.
Auckland Open Road Cycling Championships
Ramarama – Paerata – Bombay circuit
Men.- Elite, 144 kms: 1, K Murray (Counties Manukau); 2, A Strong (CMC); 3, C Williams (CMC).
Under 23, 144kms: 1, A Rae (CMC); 2, M Torckler (Stratford); 3, S Gorter (Hamilton).
Under 19, 98 kms: 1, S Mullaly (CMC); 2, F Bermingham (CMC); 3, S Lindsay (CMC).
Under 17, 75 kms: 1, A McCory-Bowick (CMC); 2, J Oram (Nth Harb); 3, N Sutton (Stratford).
Under 15, 29 kms: 1, J Hunter (CMC); 2, A Carlier (CMC); 3, S Kirby (CMC).
Masters 1, 98 kms: 1, M Jensen (CMC); 2, C Pulley (CMC); 3, M Cornelius (CMC).
Masters 2, 98 kms: 1, L Johnston (Whangarei); 2, M Jones (Morrinsville); 3, N Hunt (CMC).
Masters 3, 75 kms: 1, S Imrie (CMC); 2, P Bruggeman (CMC); 3, K Moloney (CMC).
Masters 4, 75kms: 1, G Blackwood (CMC); 2, C Faithfull (CMC); 3, A Morrissey (CMC).
Masters 5, 52 kms: 1, W Hudson (Akarana); 2, J Coker (CMC); 3, P Pendry (CMC).
Masters 6, 52 kms: 1, R Tuckey (CMC); 2, P Slocum (CMC); 3, N Jamieson (CMC).
Masters 7, 52 kms: 1, G Ulmer (CMC); 2, B Goldsworthy (Aka); 3, B McCarthy (CMC).
Women.- Elite, 98 kms: 1, E Collins (CMC); 2, M Burke (CMC); 3, M Duvnjak (Nth Harb).
Under 19, 52 kms: 1, K Chilcott (Nth Harb) 2, L Summerville (Nth Harb); 3, A Neems (Aka).
Under 17, 52 kms: 1, G Williams (Nth Harb); 2, G Wilson (Nth Harb); 3, D Van der Sande (CMC).
Under 15, 29 kms: 1, D Hiley (CMC); 2, G Browne (CMC).
Masters, 52 kms: 1, S Clark (CMC); 2, M Sitters (Nth Harb); 3, V Hunter (CMC).