Cycling: Future unclear for memorial ride ace

By Cameron Leslie

Northland's Nick Lovegrove will need more than his recently completed hat-trick of wins at the Fred Ogle Memorial Ride to ensure he has a team to ride for next year.

Despite Lovegrove's success in Whangarei at the weekend, he is likely to be left without a team to race for next year.

"The Subway guys' sponsorship is ending in December. Team management has been working hard on a new team sponsor and we've had some interest but it's likely we may be shutting down and looking for new teams," Lovegrove said.

The 30-year-old said there was one option on the table but it was yet to be confirmed.

Backing up from a challenging Tour of Southland last week, Lovegrove showed his class by cruising to victory three minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

Lovegrove said he liked to get back and race the 110km event each year and winning it three times in a row was a bonus.

"Having done it a few a times now, I had a good idea how it should play out for me and what I wanted to do during the race.

"Any win is special and to win, you've got to have a lot of things go right, so it's nice to have that happen," Lovegrove said.

The win had extra meaning for Lovegrove with his grandparents and family supporting him.

"It's nice to race on the Northland roads and put in a good performance in front of the family who were on the side of the road supporting me," he said.

With only a week between the Fred Ogle race and finishing the southern tour, defending his title again was not going to be easy.

However, Lovegrove's experience and recent top-level racing saw him dominate the men's field.

Lovegrove said his plan was to break away from the rest and hope only a small group followed, leaving him to dictate the speed of the riders.

"In a small group, you can take the race away. We went into the turnaround with eight guys and had a two-minute gap on the chase group, and from there, it was about picking up the pace."

After the turnaround, Lovegrove lifted the pace with the intention of sapping the energy from his challengers.

"It's a way of wearing the legs down and I wanted to make everyone hurt," Lovegrove said.

In similar fashion to last year, Lovegrove made his winning move less than 20km from the finish, attacking again until finally shaking off Murray Healey and New Zealand under-17 representative Ben Johnstone, who finished second and third respectively, on a long climb with 15km to go.

"Once I had established a gap, I just put the hammer down all the way to the finish. It's great to win three in a row and the form is still building after Southland. I am looking forward to the races that are coming up."

Proceeds from this year's event went to Bike Northland to help deliver its Share the Road and Bikes in Schools programmes.

- Northern Advocate

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