It came down to the very last sprint of the day to determine the New Zealand Cycle Classic Tour winner for 2021. But it was New Zealand National team’s Corbin Strong who held his nerve in the final sprint to finish second gaining a vital time bonus to secure the overall Yellow Jersey in the 34th edition of the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic, held in Wellington city this afternoon.
Strong won the Tour in 10hrs 48mins.51 seconds while teammate Finn Fisher-Black, who started today’s fifth and final stage in the yellow jersey, finished eight seconds behind Strong on GC. Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy’s Aaron Gate was third, 23 secs behind while New Zealand Cycling Project’s Ben Oliver finished fourth overall +56 seconds.
Huddling under shelter in Midland Park as the rain poured down, Strong said he was so relieved and happy to claim the yellow jersey after a technical error in the results the day before saw him presented the jersey, only to have it taken away and given to teammate Finn Fisher Black following a result audit.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling. For five hours yesterday thinking I was in yellow, going into the last day which suits me really well,” said Strong. “It was pretty tough hearing that my teammate, who is a really good mate, was actually in yellow and we were in a difficult situation where the last stage was a race pretty much tailor made for me and the gap was tight. But we had to go and race it … we weren’t racing against each other we were racing to keep the jersey in the team.”
Strong and his teammates further celebrated by be awarded the teams classification jersey.
In what can only be described as a nail-biting conclusion to the five-day Tour which began in Masterton on Wednesday, Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy’s Campbell Stewart won the final stage held in wet and challenging conditions along Lambton Quay. Stewart narrowly finished ahead of Strong while New Zealand Cycling Project’s George Jackson was third over the line. Gate was fourth, Oliver fifth and Coupland’s Bakeries Mark Langlands, the only rider in this year’s tour who competed in this stage when it was held in Wellington 10 years ago, was sixth.
Stewart said he gritted his teeth to give the thousands of spectators who lined the course something to cheer about.
“There was a lot that happened (before the fourth and final sprint) … we were trying to make a move and get Gatey (Aaron Gate) off the front but that didn’t work so we had to change focus in the last few laps. The whole team just rode. We were all at the front all day – everyone was right up there. We managed to get me in the right position at the end.”
Both Stewart and Strong thanked the thousands of people who braved the weather conditions to cheer on the country’s top riders as well as thank race director Jorge Sandoval and the Wellington City Council for allowing the race to return to the Capital city.
Earlier in the day a fun new community event called Cycle the Golden Mile was staged on the same circuit and included children’s races and a celebrity circuit featuring former Wellington Mayor Celia Wade Brown, National List MP Chris Bishop, Carterton Mayor Greg Lang, Hurricanes mascot Captain Hurricane and Greg O’Connor, Labour MP for Member for Ōhāriu and chairperson of the Transport and Infrastructure Committee. They lined up alongside Wellington sporting mascots Leo and Flossie and Captain Hurricane. Almost 100 riders of all ages and abilities took the opportunity to ride a series of fun races.
The 2020 NZ Cycle Classic can take place thanks to the generous support from Trust House, Wellington City Council, Mobile Communications Service, Wizwireless, Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega Masterton, Cross Country Rentals, Tineli and Lion Foundation plus all three Wairarapa District Councils.
UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic Stage Five placings.
- Campbell Stewart, Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy
- Corbin Strong, NZ National team
- George Jackson, NZ Cycling Project
Trust House Yellow Jersey overall Tour Winner: Corbin Strong, New Zealand National team Fagan Motors Under 23 Jersey: Corbin Strong, New Zealand National team
WIZWireless Points Classification Jersey: Regan Gough, NZ National team
Mobile Communication Service Most Aggressive Rider Jersey: Ryan Christensen, Cycling New Zealand team Mitre 10 MEGA King of the Mountains Jersey: Luke Mudgway, Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy Cross Country Rentals Teams Classification Jersey: New Zealand National Team.
Stage 5 places
1st – Campbell Stewart – Black Spoke
2nd – Corbin Strong – New Zealand National Team
3rd – George Jackson – NZ Cycling Project
- 1st Corbin Strong – New Zealand National Team takes Yellow
- 2nd Finn Fisher-Black – New Zealand National Team
- 3rd Aaron Gate – Black Spoke
- Most Aggressive – Ryan Christensen, Cycling NZ Team
- Teams Jersey – New Zealand National Team
- U/23 – Corbin Strong, New Zealand National Team
- KOM – Luke Mudgway, Black Spoke
- Sprint – Regan Gough, New Zealand National Team