Teenager Liam Cavanagh was a surprise winner of week five of the Spoken Cycles sponsored winter series at Puahue after being dropped on the first lap of the two previous races he contested.

The 16-year-old Hillcrest student rode a sensational race to head the 163-strong field in the popular club event that doubled as handicap races for the Schwartfeger, Glass and Messenger cups.

Cavanagh took line honours but had to settle for the Glass Cup awarded to the first Under 17 rider.

The prestigious Schwartfeger Cup went to second-placed Ben Hoy.


The Under 15 Messenger Cup winner was Kane Foster.

Cavanagh said he nearly got dropped once again at the start of the race but managed to hang on and stick through for the entire first lap.

His group of B graders (off 14 minutes) then started catching groups up front before being caught themselves with 4km to go by Hoy's B grade group off 11 minutes.

"I was already hurting and I didn't know if I was gonna be able to hang on," said Cavanagh.

"The pace eased off and I was able to recover as we finally caught the leading group with one kilometre to go.

"Heading into the uphill sprint finish, all the fast guys went off to the right and I spotted a gap opening up on the left, I was about 20 deep. I just went really hard, as hard as I could and sometimes had to go around some really narrow gaps on the left (almost ending up on the grass) and then I reached the front.

"I was able to keep powering on to take the victory and I was super stoked to get the win."

The first 10 home were Cavanagh, Hoy, Charlie Studd, Elijah May (Taupo), Russell Mudgway, Rushlee Buchanan, Scott Smyth, Phil Brown, Sean Onishi (Taupo) and Ted Schmidt.


Scratch rider Nick Kergozou recorded the fastest time of 1.01.41 over the 50km.
Cavanagh won the pre-Christmas C grade summer series at the end of 2019, also run by Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club, but broke his elbow mountain biking just before the series ended. He lost his fitness and hadn't won any further races until Sunday's epic win at Puahue.

Ben Hoy (43) said he was thrilled to have finally got his name on a club trophy.

"The Schwartfeger Cup is a favourite of mine in the calendar, the handicap format means that the whole club gets to race each other from the raw beginner to the world champions in a frantic chase to the finish.

"Our group established a steady paceline and worked well together. We were lucky to have some world class riders in Bryony Botha and Rushlee Buchanan from the New Zealand track team, elite time triallist Georgia Perry, some up and coming juniors, and a few of us Masters athletes refusing to let go of our sporting dreams."

Hoy said there was no let up on the course with a smooth 43km/h average maintained, and everbody pushing it to the limit and working together. "Anyone of the group would have deserved the win."

"We kept the pressure on and caught the final riders in the last 500 metres, D grader David Smith (off 25 minutes) nearly holding off the chasers until 100m to go. At this point there was a lot of congestion at the front. I spied a gap on the extreme left of the road and managed to sneak through, with Liam (Cavanagh) timing his sprint to perfection to get me on the line for overall winner."


Hoy has been competing regularly at TASSCC events since returning to the Waikato to work as an eye surgeon six years ago. He puts his good form down to some lockdown training in the garage on the smart trainer.

The Schwartfeger Cup winner is hoping to take his form into the Age Group Road Nationals later this month, followed by the Dynamo team series later this year. His team, Podium Lodge/Spoken Cycles, won their grade last year.

"We are all excited about doing that again — it is the closest most of us will get to being pro cyclists."

Club secretary, Melinda Loader said Blair Taylor did an exceptional job sorting the handicaps for Sunday's race — not an easy job, particularly with such a large number of riders entered.