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Roulston headlines strong field for final round

Roulston headlines strong field for final round of Benchmark Homes series

3 October 2013 


Calder Stewart. Hayden Roulston climbs Bluff Hill in the Tour of Southland riding for Calder Stewart

World Tour professional Hayden Roulston headlines a very strong elite men’s field for the final round of the Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series on Saturday which features the Faringdon Team Time Trial and the iconic Hell of the South circuit in the Selwyn District near Christchurch.

Roulston is back in Christchurch after racing for his Radioshack-Leopard pro team in the World Team Time Trial Championships in Italy and is using Saturday’s 127 kilometre elite men’s race as a hard training day for his participation in the Tour of Beijing that starts on Friday next week.

“Being late in the season I’d really rather race on Saturday than face a training day by myself,” Roulston, who will ride for Team Calder Stewart, said. “It will be good to have a hard hit out ahead of Beijing.”

Joining Roulston on the start line for their first taste of the Benchmark Series this year are BikeNZ Endurance Olympic track team mates Shane Archbold (Team Calder Stewart Road) and Marc Ryan (Scotty Browns Vision Systems). They will be joined by Hamish Schreurs (Benchmark Homes), H & J Smith’s team mates Cameron Karwowski and Pieter Bulling, Dylan Kennett (Breads of Europe- All About Plumbing) and Michael Vink (Scotty Browns Vision Systems) who were all also in Europe over winter with the BikeNZ Endurance track team, and James Williamson (H & J Smith’s) who has been based in the UK racing with Continental team Node4-Giordana.   

Schreurs narrowly beat Kennett to win the previous round of the elite men’s series near Queenstown last month, which saw Benchmark Home’s Sam Horgan move up into a share of the overall elite series lead with Under 23 series leader Tom Hubbard (Homestyle) with L & M Group Racing’s Joe Chapman only one point behind. 

Horgan, who has been in good form racing in the National Road Series in Australia for Continental team Budget Forklifts, winning the Tour of the Great South Coast in September and coming second in two stages of the Capital Tour of Canberra two weeks ago, says he welcomes the presence of the overseas based riders for the final round of the series.

“It will be a good challenge to be racing against them after their European season; their presence will mean the strongest guy will win on the day,” he said.

Saturday’s route features two gravel sections which Horgan says will play a key role on such a flat course. The race is named the ‘Hell of the South’ due to the gravel sections, a nod to Paris-Roubaix,  one of cycling’s oldest and best known one day races, called the ‘Hell of the North’ due to its rough terrain and cobblestones, a race where Roulston has performed well, including coming 10th in 2010 when ill.

The elite men and masters riders tackle the first section of gravel three times and then hit the second section of gravel 25 kilometres from the finish line. The women only do the first section of gravel twice before hitting the second section on the homeward leg.

“The gravel is physically and technically quite demanding,” Horgan said. “It will play a selective role in the race but I hope it’s for the right reasons and not a crash or puncture.”

Horgan said the gravel sections favours the bigger stronger riders and expects the likes of Roulston and Ryan to use it to force the pace and ride aggressively to whittle down the peloton.

With a chance of winning the series for the second time Horgan said he is focused on winning on Saturday and then the overall series result will take care of itself.

Brad McFarlane (Team Thule Racing) holds a narrow series lead over Kiwi Style Bike Tour’s Glen Rewi in the master’s classification with the previous round’s impressive winner Reon Park (Team Calder Stewart) looming as the favourite to repeat his Queenstown win.

Dunedin’s Mark Spessot (Cycle World) is lying third but is leading the masters over 45 classification, 14 points behind McFarlane.

Olympic track cyclist Lauren Ellis holds a seven point series lead over her Benchmark Homes team mate Sharlotte Lucas but can expect some tough competition from Sophie Williamson (H&J's Outdoor World), who is back in New Zealand after a stint in the United States riding for women’s pro team Vanderkitten, Laura Fairweather (Altherm Window Systems) and Haley Mercer (Benchmark Homes).                            


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