Epic results unfolded at the 42nd annual BDO Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge.
The challenge, which started on Friday evening, attracted plenty of spectators who lined the streets of Taupō wanting to keep track of the action.
In the fast-paced 100km Bayleys Women's Classic Elite Race, Ione Johnson (2h 40m 42s) took top honours.
It was a tight race with the first three crossing the finish line within two seconds of each other.
New Zealand Women's Track Endurance squad member Elyse Fraser was second, and New Zealand triathlete Teresa Adam third – both finishing in 2h 40m 43s.
Event director Debbie Chambers it was great to see so many people enjoying the buzz of Taupō, especially the thrilling finish line with so many sprints towards the end.
"It's an amazing challenge which always puts on a good show for spectators. Great to see heaps of supporters cheering the riders across the finish line," Chambers said.
In the 160km Holden Men's Classic Elite Race it was double Olympic rowing gold medallist Hamish Bond (3h 46m 14s) who cruised to victory.
He crossed the line exactly two minutes ahead of second placed Dylan Kennett (3h 48m 14s), who was also second in Friday night's Criterium.
Kennett was followed closely by Corbin Strong (3h 48m 14s) finishing one 10th of a second later to secure third.
With just minutes between the first three finishers in the BDO Women's Huka XL 85km mountain bike race, elite world champion Jolanda Neff (4h 3m 5s) from Switzerland took top spot, followed just over two minutes later by Samara Sheppard in second in a time of (4h 5m 53s). Third was Kym Skerman (4h 54m 28s).
Frazer Clacherty, of Whitby, blitzed the BDO Huka XL 85km men's mountain bike event (3h 39m 32s). Last year's winner Sam Shaw, of Rotorua, was second (3h 41m 42s) and Palmerston North's Caleb Bottcher was third (3h 48m 28s).
Craig Harper completed the 640km Maxi Enduro in an impressive time of 21h 45m 23s. Second was Remco Biesheuvel (25h 10m 45s).
Jeremy Rowe set off at 1.30am on Saturday to ride the two-lap Enduro event, completing it in 9h 48m 24s. The first female home was Alice Chaplin (10h 11m 47s).
First in Bike Barn Round the Lake 160km ride was Nga Poupouare (3h 57m 13s) and first female was Rebecca Clarke (14h 16m 33s).
But, before the serious elite races were held, there were some fun events for people to take part in and watch.
The BDO Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge Criterium's newly introduced Cycle Mania, where children and their blinged out bikes, as well as those wanting to show off their unique, were encouraged to bring them along for the main street parade.
This was before the Criterium races with a battle between the New Zealand Defence Force and emergency services where the New Zealand Army, Navy and Air Force took on the New Zealand Police to cycle it out for bragging rights.
It was a close finish with the Army first overall, the Air Force and Navy equal second, and the NZ Police fourth. This led into the more competitive Criterium races, with elite female and male riders racing for prize money.
The Women's Criterium was won by Rushlee Buchanan, with Ally Wollaston second and Michaela Drummond third. Campbell Stewart was first across the line in the men's Criterium with Dylan Kennett second and Ben Oliver third.
Chambers said Lake Taupō was the perfect backdrop for this event and thousands of cyclists, elite and those just giving it a go, enjoying the challenge of cycling round the lake.
"The event village was packed with locals, visiting cyclists, and their supporters checking out the expo and enjoying the live entertainment before heading to watch the thrilling criterium races.
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