Bale bails on his chasers

By Jared Smith

The men's 66km ride set a fast early pace during the road race around the Brunswick Rd course yesterday morning.
The men's 66km ride set a fast early pace during the road race around the Brunswick Rd course yesterday morning.

Wellington cyclist Steve Bale was able to compete the NZMG double as he followed up his road time trial victory on Saturday with a comfortable win in the road race on the Brunswick Rd course yesterday morning.

Bale, who broke the national track cycling Hour Record in open and master's grade, stayed near the front for the six laps of the 66km men's race among 29 men's riders - who cut a fairly quick pace on lap one despite a crash in the pack near the Western Line, which saw around half a dozen riders in difficulty.

Nev Weir eventually had to retire after gutting out another three laps with a bloodied elbow.

Bale led at the first swing past the electronic monitors from Hubertus Buyck and Kevin Hart, as the first of the stragglers had begun to drop off the leading bunch.

On the next time around, Bale was holding second behind Mike Proudfoot, with Chris Latta coming up to join them, who then took over the front for the third lap, still from Bale, with Glenn Kirk coming up to third.

The spectators began to head down to the Tokomaru East Rd intersection in anticipation of a close finish.

Ultimately, it was Bale who continued to cut a pace and was leading on lap five from Kirk and Cliff Hughes, and he poured on the little bit extra he had in the tank to win comfortably ahead of the chasing pack, with Wellington's Chris Stevenson and Dunedin's Latta getting up for the minor line honours.

Bale, finishing in 1h 47m 1s, said he had wanted to get clear air in front early to make sure he did not get tangled up in anyone else's accident, although he did not see the lap one crash.

The hill climb before the straight on Brunswick Rd often culls the weak ones from the herd, and the experienced Bale was looking to take advantage of that.

"It was quite tactical, a lot of guys looking around.

"Guys get strung out at the climb.

"I just hit them again and again until the until the main guys didn't want to work anymore, then I made the break.

"There's a breaking point of about a 100m [in front]."

Bale will now go compete in the interclub series in Wellington and set himself to break the Hour Record again.

In the 44km women's race, the 22-rider field was also going to be decided by just three standouts - Whanganui's Catherine McMurray and Tonia Nesbitt, along with Kapiti's Janice Hill.

The three got well ahead of the rest of the strung-out field and worked with and against each other over the four laps.

By the end of lap three, McMurray had worked away to a comfortable lead, with Hill about 30s behind and Nesbitt back around the same distance.

They stayed that way for the rest of the race, for McMurray to take a comfortable win in 1h 26m.

The older 55-64 and 65+ grades then started their own races in the latter part of the morning, which included a couple of evergreen 80-year-old's, for a total field of around 114 riders, slightly down on 2015.

The cycling events conclude on Thursday with the grass sprint.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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