Bici Vida owned the A Grade podium in last night's third race of the bioSPORT City Criterium Series at the Auckland Viaduct, with Patrick Bevin (Bici Vida) outsprinting Mike Northey (Orbea Bici Vida) and Alex Ray (Bici Vida) having to settle for third.
Describing it as "a very hard race", Bevin made Northey his effective leadout man, sitting on Northey's wheel as they came into the finishing straight and then coming around him when it mattered, clocking nearly 70kph as he came over the line.
Ray jumped immediately out of the starting blocks, putting 100m on the 32-strong bunch straight away and from there dictated the race by driving the pace (45kph average speed) and initiating the many breaks. Unfortunately he burned all his matches doing so and "didn't have it in the end", having to sprint for third, just edging out Gordon McCauley (Subway-Avanti).
Bici Vida also dominated the sprint laps, with Bevin collecting two of the five, and Northey, Ray and Mark Langlands (Bici Vida) claiming one each.
McCauley didn't have the benefit of a full team around him, but it didn't stop him playing an extended game of cat and mouse on the front with Ray and others, including Fraser Birmingham and Matt Sillars both from the Placemakers team. McCauley led the three man breakaway heading into the final lap but wasn't able to overcome the combined firepower of seemingly indomitable Bici Vida.
Speaking after the race, McCauley, more a stage racer and climber, was philosophical about his sprinting capacity and the realities of criterium racing - "give me a two hour race and a few hills!"
Long-time crits competitor Kate Mullarkey took the women's honours this week, followed by Kate Chilcott and Mel Burke.
The Men's race was a three way sprint between Jason Waterhouse, John Fitzpatrick and John Rippon with Fitzpatrick getting his wheel across the line just ahead of Waterhouse.
Jason Waterhouse also won the second sprint by a country mile, with almost 100m gap back to the chasing bunch and in the process earning himself a one way ticket to A Grade. The other sprint laps were won by Darren Cole, Lincoln Jackson and Daniel Gate.
Despite the conditions, the 47 riders in the field still made for fast and competitive racing with the bunch recording an average speed of 42 kph.
C Grade was won by Jamie Marr with Mark Hopkinson second and Duncan McLay third. The two sprint laps were won by Sam Brothers.
Justin ("Chewy") Shaw made a return to the race track, but having first swapped his pushbike for a motorbike to be the pace man for the evening's racing. And, it was good to see Stu Imrie back at the crits, albeit on the sidelines and on crutches, but back on his feet again after extensive surgery on his leg.
Greg Pain from bioSPORT was pleased with the turnout of 109 riders on a night that looked like it may rain, and with the racing standard in general, "I'm very impressed that a lot of the senior riders are keeping the races really keen, ensuring the newer riders are toeing the line, literally."
Series Standings at the half-way mark
1st Mike Northey
2nd Patrick Bevin
3rd Alex Ray
1st Jason Waterhouse
2nd Jeremy Turner & John Rippon
3rd Mason Spiers
1st Gayle Brownlee
2nd Paula McCoy
3rd Emma Crum & Kate Mullarkey
1st Dan Pavis
2nd Sam Brothers
3rd Jamie Marr
A reminder that riders are encouraged to pre-register at the bioSPORT reception, 3 minutes ride from the race course at 119a Wellesley Street West, up to 5pm on race day.
Racing continues at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour next Thursday 25 February.
Photography by Mead Norton. www.naturalstudios.co.nz
RESULTS, bioSPORT City Criterium Series, Race 3 (Thursday 18 February)
1. Patrick Bevin (Bici Vida)
2. Mike Northey (Orbea Bici Vida)
3. Alex Ray (Bici Vida)
1. John Fitzpatrick
2. Jason Waterhouse
3. John Rippon
1. Kate Mullarkey
2 Kate Chilcott
3 Mel Burke
1. Jamie Marr
2. Mark Hopkinson
3. Duncan McLay
bioSPORT would like to thank our sponsors and supporters:
Air New Zealand, Allpress Espresso, Cibo Restaurant, cyclingnzshop.com, Grace Lang Optometry, Hammer Nutrition, Sanctuary Developments and the Six:30 bunch.
Series dates: Thursdays: 4th Feb, 11th Feb, 18th Feb, 25th Feb, 4th Mar, 11th Mar (rain day)
Grand final and prize giving: Saturday: 25th Mar - to be confirmed.
Event Organiser: Greg Pain, bioSPORT
Race Director: Troy Campbell, Epic Sports
bioSPORT is a biomechanical training and physiotherapy studio in Auckland's CBD. bioSPORT specialises in injury prevention, performance enhancement and rehabilitation for cycling, running, multi sport, triathlon, swimming, golf and tennis.