Frankly Josh Page was quite comfortable yo-yoing in his austere mood swing, toying with the idea of not jumping into the saddle of his 22-gear Cervelo touted to be the world's fastest and lightest professional racing bicycle.

"To be honest, I wasn't even thinking of it because I was over it and I wasn't even going to go to it," says Page who had fine-tuned his ride, gone for a ride and was "feeling pretty rubbish" last Sunday as the fifth and final leg of the Trust House North Island team cycling series beckoned in Wairarapa.

Selflessly the Hastings rider opted to roll down to help his Tank Guy/Bikebox team in the hope his ride might make a difference.

Not only did the Palmerston North team win the Trust House North Island team cycling series but Page got on the podium to claim the overall elite title.


"It's pretty good to win it," he says of his maiden North Island crown. Last year he had won a stage in October last year but never a series crown in four years of competing in the event.

However, Page's priority was the annual Tour of Southland in October but because of work commitments as manager of the Bike Barn store in Napier he had to scratch that plan.

"That's what I was aiming for all year so in the last minute I decided I was going to change my goals to targeting the overall North Island Series title."

Age is no barrier for the 32-year-old who simply sees it as an endorsement for what any competitor will reap provided the hard work goes into it.

"They say you get better as you get older," he says with a laugh.

Racing on an undulating circuit on the outskirts of Masterton, Page finished seventh behind race winner Luke Mudgway, from Palmerston North, in the 120km race which began at Henley Lake in Masterton and snaked towards Eketahuna via Whangeahu Valley and Alfredton before returning to the finish at Black Rock Rd.

Mudgway is a member of the 2014 world track champion Kiwi team and grew up in Central Hawke's Bay before moving with his family to the other side of the Manawatu Gorge.

Page had accumulated enough points to claim the series ahead of teammates Madi Hartley-Brown and Matt Webb-Smith who sat on equal 68 points, two ahead of the eventual winner.

Nevertheless, his preoccupation was with Anthony Nelder, of Wellington, who he felt had the credentials to disrupt the Tank Guy/Bikebox team party as he sat seven points behind the joint leaders.

That's what spurred Page to chase down a leading bunch of seven riders who had broken away in the last 10km, outsprinting them for some precious points.

"It was close. You know, we had to be attentive because you haven't won until you cross the finish line so we couldn't leave anything to chance."

Immersed in the collective cause, he was blissfully unaware of his individual acquisition.
So how hard was it to jostle his way into a Palmy North outfit as a Bay bloke?

"I was riding for them last year and I'm born in Palmy, anyway," says the former Havelock North High School pupil with a laugh. "I walked up to the team manager last year and said, 'I'm born in Palmy, mate, does that count?'

"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where the team's from as long as they give you a ride, I suppose, so it's sweet as."

Wife Kerri-anne Page (nee Torckler) is co-team manager with Mike Simpson, of the Tank Guy/Bikebox outfit which Sam Gardner owns.

Page hopes to defend his North Island crown next year but isn't sure if the elite segment of the series will be raced, although race director Jorge Sandoval gave a thumbs up to the series.

"I will work hard to keep the series based here in the Wairarapa with a better, bigger event in 2018," says Sandoval in a statement after the event lured more than 250 riders from outside Wairarapa.

For Page, it's too early to set goals for next year, including the Tour of Southland. His immediate focus is on the New Zealand Road Racing Championship to be staged in Hawke's Bay from next month.

Cycle Nation, a team from Hawke's Bay, won the Masters One title with Gary Hall finishing behind winner Brendan McGrath (Team Roadworks) and runner-up Steve Bale.

In Masters Two, Wellington-based Brent Backhouse (Meo GP) prevailed after breaking away from the 70-strong bunch with 3km to go to hold his seven-second lead for his second race win in the series this year.

The dogfight unfolded behind him as former Olympian Gary Anderson (Velo Ronny's Vittoria) with Huib Buyck (Total Home Theatre) in second place and Hall in third.

Anderson took the overall spoils for the grade with Buyck runner-up and Rob Kilvington (PNP team) coming in third.

The team's crown went to the Optimal Performance team.