Pleasant conditions but a wind blowing up the Buller Gorge added to the challenge of the 3rd Source to Sea Buller Cycle Challenge for the 545-starters, riding either as individual riders, in relay teams, on tandems, as part of a workplace team and even one recumbent cycle.
First away from Lake Rotoiti at 9am on Saturday was the Pro Field, 27-elite riders competing also for the MASI Pro Team $3,600.00 Cash Prize.
2008 men's winner Chris Nicholson from Nelson was once again picked to perform. With the race the MASI Pro Team competition was extremely competitive with Tasman Glass fielding 2-teams, Stoke Cycles, John Bull Cycles and Push Bikes all capable of victory. By the 60km point in Murchison a 4-rider break away got away from the main bunch with the main teams controlling the pace to allow their rider in the break away to get clear. The break was led by Nicholson (Stoke Cycles), Nelson riders Jonathan Kalma (Tasman Glass), Thomas Hodgson and Christchurch rider Alex Daniel.
The 4-rider group rode strongly through the Buller Gorge and through Inangahua. Existing the lower gorge beyond landmark Hawkes Crag, the pressure from Nicholson had reduced the group to 3-riders. Entering the final 500-metres it was a tactical play as the 3-riders tried to position themselves for the win. Nicholson however had the power and experience and won the pro race for the second consecutive year clocking 4:23'20. Kalma took second with Hodgson riding superbly for his age to take third. Kalma's effort combined with his teammates strong finishes; Kieran Hambrook and Dean Fulton earned Team Tasman Glass the top overall team.
In the women's MASI Pro Team competition Lana King won the race in 4:34'30 and led Team Fresh Choice to claim the top women's team. Britta Martin and Cushla McKay made up the team.
10-minutes after the Pro field departed the main field left, totally 400-riders including all the age group riders.
The man on the mission in the main field was 30+ Christchurch rider Mark Washington riding for team Armitage Williams Construction. Together with 40+ rider Craig Fenton of Christchurch, they relentlessly attached the peloton and eventually got a gap on the field. Working together but with Washington doing the Lion's share of punching into the head wind, they reached the finish 2-minutes ahead. Fenton allowed Washington the line honours paying respect to the work that he had done, both riders clocking 4.22'02, over 1-minute faster than the Pro men's race. Jason Turner sprinted the main field over the line to take third.
In the relay section it was the men's and women's teams of WILDSIDE TRAVEL that won both their grades respectively.
Team Armitage Williams Construction dominated the Workplace teams category taking 1st and 2nd places.
Race Director's Nathan Fa'avae and Mike Gane have tentatively announced the 2010 Source to Sea Buller Cycle Challenge is being planned for November 6th and will likely include a 50km fun ride from Inangahua to Westport as a build up for the relay and solo ride.
Full results and information www.sourcetosea.co.nz