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Johnstone wins Benchmark race


Johnstone wins Benchmark race

9 April 2013

Warmup Cycling’s Lee Johnstone made it two wins in a row winning the second round of Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series, the Tasman Classic, in Nelson on Sunday.

The result sees Johnstone take a firm grip on the master’s tour leaders over 35 jersey. Teammate Darren Burns rode well to take second. Although dropped on the four kilometre Spooners climb at the 25 kilometre mark Johnstone was well supported by his team to successfully rejoin the leaders after 30 kilometres of chasing.

He then hit the bottom of the final climb hard to gap the leaders and held on up the tough climb to win the 98 kilometre race in two hours and 42 minutes, crossing the line four seconds ahead of Burns and Dunedin’s Mark Spessot (Cycle World) who came third and leads the over 45 masters classification.

“I looked at the final hill before the race and though there was no way I could win, so was really surprised I got there,” he said. “I really have to credit my team mates as quite a few of us went off on Spooners and we were about a minute and a half down at one stage and the boys got on the front and drove it really hard and we were lucky to get back on.”

“I had even had lots doubts during the race, thinking a number of times it was over and we just needed to limit our loses and get to the finish line. I was about fourth wheel round the corner at the bottom of the climb then just hit it hard, got a gap and held on. I really didn’t expect to climb like that at the end.”

Team Thule Cycling’s Blair Stuthridge, Brad McFarlane and Neil Sutherland all came in together just behind Burns and Spessott, claiming fourth, fifth and sixth, results that saw Thule claim the day’s team’s classification.

After working hard for Johnstone Warmup’s Mark Forsey cam home in 19th place, 29 seconds after Johnstone, with Wayne Smythe following closely behind.

Burn’s sits seventh on the individual points classification and the Warmup Team is third in the team’s classification with 16 points, two points behind Team Tineli Masters and six points adrift of leaders Team Thule Cycling.

The next round of the series in on Saturday the 11th of May, from Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura.

ends

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