Burnett, McCarthy claim honours in UCI Gravel & Tar race in Manawatu

Road, Track & Cyclocross
Josh Burnett MitoQ NZ Cycling Project v2.v1

Southland Josh Burnett, with an accomplished background both on and off road, claimed arguably New Zealand’s toughest one-day cycle race with victory in the Gravel &Tar race in Manawatu.

The 23-year-old MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project rider was stronger in the sprint finish over NZ team rider Boris Clark to claim the 140km UCI sanctioned event, sponsored by the Professionals-Unique Realty, with the course incorporating five gravel sections and significant climbs in the loop from Ashhurst.

The pair managed the tough terrain and humid conditions best, clearing away from the breakaway group after defending champion Ben Oliver and NZ Cycle Classic winner Aaron Gate both punctured.

The quartet, along with Craig Oliver (MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project), Australians Tali Lane Walsh and Max Campbell (CCACHE-Par Küp Continental) and Mitchell McGovern (Criterion Racing) along with kiwi Glenn Haden (Couplands Booths Group) formed a lead group that broke away on the first gravel section.

Burnett and Clark pushed clear late in the race with the Southland professional proving the strongest to win by two seconds from Clark with Walsh third 18 seconds back.

With only 29 finishes from the 51 starters, the race proved his billing as the toughest test, and attracted a stellar field including teams from Australia and Netherlands.

Burnett, who has an accomplished background in BMX, mountainbike and cyclocross, combined with his talents on the road as a former Tour of Southland winner.

"It was really nice to take the win.  It is known as being such a tough race by all riders in both kiwis and Australians, so I am really stoked to have my name on the trophy alongside some of the legends of the sport,” said Burnett.

"I am really looking forward to tackling some more UCI races later in the season in both USA and Asia.  It's really cool to have such a good international programme with my team, MitoQ - NZ Cycling Project NZ, which is the only UCI team from New Zealand this year.”

The women’s race saw Waikato’s Kate McCarthy, riding for Green Monkey team, held off MTB under-23 world champion, Sammi Maxwell in a sprint finish to claim the honours.

McCarthy, the former BePink professional, has been a consistently strong contender at the national road championships and won the Round Taupo Challenge last year.

Maxwell showed her renowned climbing abilities to stretch the field over the climbs on the gravel but was joined by McCarthy, Charlotte Clarke (Team Tinelli) and Rylee McMullen (Green Monkey) who built a solid gap over the peloton.

McCarthy and Maxwell were too strong, breaking away for the sprint finish, with Clarke third ahead of McMullen, who will head to the US-based Denver Disruptors professional team along with Oliver this year.

Cycling New Zealand high performance track rider, Michaela Drummond was an impressive fifth with plenty of plaudits for the return of former international Sophie Williamson, making her return to the sport to lead the  newly formed women’s professional team with MitoQ - NZ Cycling Project.

The cycling action remains in Manawatu for the National Criterium championships at Massey University on Monday.

Results, Gravel& Tar:

Female: Kate McCarthy (Green Monkey) 3:01.34, 1; Sammie Maxwell (Tactic) same time, 2; Charlotte Clarke (Tinelli) at 24s, 3; Rylee McMullen (Green Monkey) at 3:52, 4; Michaela Drummond (Green Monkey) at 6:30, 5.

Male: Josh Burnett (MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project) 3:33.30, 1; Boris Clark (NZL) at 2s, 2; Tali Lane Welsh (CCache) at 18s, 3; Max Campbell (CCache) at 3:37, 4; Glenn Haden (Couplands) at 3.38, 5; Aaron Gate (NZL) at 5:05, 6.

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