Starting the day, Huon-Genesys had the upper hand with all their five riders sitting in the top ten on General Classification. Stage One winner Kiwi Joesph Cooper held the yellow jersey from team member Campbell Flakemore and Darren Lapthorne (Drapac), third.
Conditions were overcast as the peloton headed out to start the 148.3km return trip from Palmerston North Square to Apiti and return, taking in two KOM climbs and one Sprint for the day.
When the flag dropped and the race officially started, the pace was immediately on, Budget Forklifts and Team Drapac were very active and soon the pace had lifted beyond 50km per hour.
Many early attempts were made to form an early break with riders like Paddy Bevin (NZCT NZ) trying to escape, but the peloton was not keen to let anyone go. Sam Horgan (Budget Forklifts) and Joseph Lewis (GPM-Data) were also keen to stretch their legs, but again to no early avail.
The only intermediate sprint of the day came just over 25km’s into the race, and with the pace still in the 50km mark, time trial specialist Paul Odlin (Armstrong Motors) showed his strength and class outsprinting Alex Frame (Trek-Vittoria) with Roman van Uden
(Team Massey) rounding up the top three.
Many riders were finding the going tough as they climbed their way up Kimbolton Rd, a false flat incline which had the riders climbing over 450 metres with cross side winds.
A group of 16 riders were able to slip up the road, which included the yellow jersey. The gap quickly formed and the riders had a 38 second lead on the main peloton. But again it was not to establish as many riders in the break were not contend to work.
Once caught, this group was counter attacked and another twenty five riders had split the field, this time the yellow jersey was isolated into the back peloton, but the front group formed contained three of Coopers Genesys team members, so he was not concern or
interested in chasing.
Nathan Earle and Genesys team riders, Ben Dyball and Patrick Shaw knew they had strength in numbers and were happy to drive the break away, as they approached the first KOM of the day. This group had established a 1.22 gap on the field.
Chris Jory (GPM-Data) was first to cross the line for the points on the climb from Tim Rush (Tait Communications) and Ryan Wills (NZCT NZ)
This group of twelve riders continued to force the pace through the rolling terrain at the 70km mark had increased their lead to almost 2 minutes.
The second KOM of the day was almost a repeat of the first with Jory, again taking the points, this time over Wills and Rush. As the front guys continued to work well together the gap increased and at the 30km to go mark, it peaked at over 8 minutes.
Threatening showers hampered the riders, as it was clear there would be a change in the yellow jersey wearer and with 20kms to go Tim Rush attacked the break, this attempt was all Nathan Earle needed and was able to counter that with an attack of his own.
With his two team members to protect from inside the break, Earles’ lead stretched to 45 seconds, and with no main co-operation within the pack, Earle was able to maintain his lead for an overall win and take the yellow jersey off his team mate.
Roman van Uden lead home the chasing riders to claim a well deserved second, ahead of U23 rider Alex Frame. Chris Jory finished fourth, ahead of William Walker and Ben Dyball.
Odlin will wear the Green jersey for the Sprint king tomorrow and Jory leads the KOM.
Alex Frame leads the U23 section of the race.
Roadcycling.co.nz spoke with Nathan Earle after the finish “We arrived here to New Zealand early to make sure we were fully prepared”
“Most of our guys have raced here and knew the course, and we had an early plan that worked”
“I’m pretty confident we can wear yellow to the end now” Earle said.
Race report and photo courtesy of www.roadcycling.co.nz