Cycling: Heney secures series after close battle

An overcast sky with the threat of rain proved no deterrent on Saturday afternoon as more than 115 riders registered for the final race of the Heretaunga Building Society-powered Ramblers Cycling Club Spring Series.

With the 160km Lake Taupo event this coming weekend, riders raced from Pukehamoamoa School with A to D grades riding anti-clockwise around the Ohiti Rd circuit three times for 85km while E and F grades completed two laps for 57km and G grade one lap for 29km.

As a number of series titles were to be decided by this race, there was an extra competitive edge in some grades.

While the predicted rain held off, the wind made riding conditions challenging with most grades splintering into small groups and many riders failing to complete their races.

Despite six C grade riders having a mathematical chance of taking the series title, the longer race saw riders start in a fairly conservative manner before Steve Nicholls attacked early on the second lap.

He took two other riders with him and opened up a lead of one minute by the top of Matapiro Rd.

The bunch took a while to organise a chase and it was really more by good fortune than good planning that the trio were eventually caught in the headwinds along Ohiti Rd.

The final few kilometres saw a number of brief attacks which all were reeled in.

In a controversial sprint finish with allegations of irregular sprinting, Nicholls was awarded the win with Richard Gray close behind.

Chris Macaulay, who will be lining up for his eighteenth consecutive around Taupo ride this weekend, claimed third place to defend his yellow jersey and win the Spring series.

The A grade race again saw Regan Gough and Blair Heney ride away from the field with the pair finishing over three-and-a-half minutes in front of third place finisher Winston Briggs. Gough took line honours but Heney did enough to secure the series title.

Despite the B grade series title going to the absent Austin Mortimer, riders were still keen to contest the race on the day with the pace and conditions causing almost a quarter of the 25 starters to fail to complete the three lap race.

In the battle for line honours, Ian Seddon edged out Guy Strang and Kent Wilson in a close finish.

Taking an unassailable 25-point lead into the race, D grade's Marie Walters already had the series title in the bag.

Vaughan Heeney was again to the fore as he made it two wins in a row as he headed off Douglas Young and David Lay with Walters taking fourth place in a sprint finish.

Dave Marett and Mick Cull were the only E graders with a chance to win the series title.

Cull started with a 10-point lead but was among the 30 per cent of the grade that did not finish the race.

The quartet of Ian Geary, Gordon Spencer, Carol McCallum and Stu Mckie proved far too strong for the rest of the field as they recorded a time almost six minutes faster than fifth place finisher Mal Warren with Marett sixth which was not good enough for him to overtake Cull in the series.

Geary earnt his first win of the series with Spencer not far behind in second place.

After two second and three third places this series, Kirsty McCallum secured her first win to take second place in the series as she lead the front bunch of five riders home in F grade. Series winner Nicholas Kelly finished in the second bunch, almost five minutes in arrears.

The small G grade was the only race that had a 100 per cent completion rate, with Graham Dunne comfortably taking line honours ahead of Sue Hobbs.

The absent Sophie Chote had already won the Spring Series title.

There is no club racing this Saturday but a social ride will be held starting from the Puketapu Domain at 2pm.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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