K2 Cycle turns on action in all events.
James Upton won the Premier Group 1 in the K2 cycle around Coromandel, with Australians place 2nd and 3rd.
In the elite races it was Michael Torckler who won the K2 and NZ Triathlete Teresa Adam the womens K1.
They may have had a poor showing at this years Rugby World Cup, but they more than made up for it in this years Mito Q K2. A strong contingent of 25 Australians crossed the Tasman to take part in the event and Tim Curry from Bondi Beach and Bruce Kerr from Freemantle in Western Australia, placed themselves in the Premier Group 1. This Group of 50 riders represent some of the strongest weekend warriors in the Country.
With a start and finish in Thames the weather gods looked kindly on the racers with the most stunning of race days. It felt more like February than early November and would mean that riders would have to keep themselves well hydrated during the race.
The race started at 8.00am on the dot and the group stayed closely together as they made their first ascent, the 420m Kopu-Hikuai, the highest point on the course. This is a long steady climb of 8km with a nice gradual gradient, with the Australian Tim Curry taking the first climb. Once over the top however the story changes to a steep fast descent with riders approaching 90kph. The bunch regroups at the bottom of the hill with a handful of riders unable to hang onto the ferocious pace.
A few more drop off the pace on the next big hill, Pumpkin, just past Tairua and by the time the bunch arrives at Kuaotunu the attrition rate has reduced the main group to just 20. Whitianga to Coromandel is the toughest stage of the race with 3 major hill climbs ending in the notorious Whangapoua Hill. As the lead group climb Whangapou, 9 riders, including our two Australians and Hawkes Bay’s Kirtsy McCallum, have made a short gap on the other 12. David Hogg from Wanaka is the strongest climber in the group and leads this bunch over the Whangapoua Hill followed by Manaia and then the final hill of the day the Kereta.
Only 30 odd kms to the finish line along the windy and narrow roads of the Thames coastline. Only one problem, there is a wickedly strong head wind, and at this stage of the race, it’s the last thing you want.
As the group near Thames a smaller group of 4 has made a small break including the two Australians, David Hogg and James Upton from the North Shore. As they turn off the State Highway into the final straight James Upton has taken the lead and manages to win by 2 seconds over Tim Curry, with Bruce Kerr a further two seconds back and David Upton placing 4th. Local Thames rider veteran Rodney Grant comes in 16 seconds later and our winning lady is a remarkable 8th, just 40 seconds behind the winning time of 5:31:24. Only Meshy Holt and Sarah Ulmer have ridden the course faster. The hill climber from Wanaka, David Hogg takes out the King of the Mountains.
A small Men’s Elite field was dominated by one of NZ’s strongest professional riders, Michael Torckler who picked up his 4th K2 Title with a time of 5:12:09, some ten minutes ahead of Karl Poole and Dan Furminger.
There was some exciting racing in the Womens Cervelo K1 elite race which was eventually won by NZ Triathlete Teresa Adam in a time of 3:06:0. Jorja Swain was 2nd and Kate McCarthy 3rd.
A remarkable performance by 17 year old Mathew Sugden saw him win the Cervelo K1 by 6 minutes in a time of 2:55:56 with 15 year old Lewis Bower in 2nd and Calum Nisbet (17) in 3rd place. These youngsters can sure climb the Coromandel hills well. Alicia Evans from Auckland was the first female home and 10th overall.
Some other remarkable performances from the day include 83 year old Fred Bloem from Kawkawa Bay who started with 30 others at 6.00am in the morning and completed the course in a time of 11:42:55 This is our oldest K2 finisher in 18 years. Unfortunately, he came in just as were finishing prize giving.
Seven riders (nicknamed the magnificent seven) and including local rider Darren Donnelly completed their 18th K2. We wonder if they will all still be going at 83?
14 year old Emma Blackmore from Auckland was first home in the 53km Nicholas Browne Challenge in a time 1:59:04.