The “old man” of the Vantage New Zealand team, Regan Gough, grabbed an impressive victory on stage three of the New Zealand Cycle Classic on the streets of Martinborough.
Gough, at just 24 years old, is the senior rider for the young Vantage New Zealand team, and today led a three-strong break early in the 126km stage from Masterton before nine laps around the streets of Martinborough.
The trio of Gough, Hayden McCormick (Kiwivelo) and Glenn Haden (Couplands Bakeries) built a lead up to two minutes arriving into Martinborough, where they faced nine 7km loops. Black Spoke Pro Cycling, with yellow jersey wearer Luke Mudgway, worked hard to bring the gap back as Haden threatened the overall lead. The peloton closed to 1:17 with three laps remaining but the leaders held them off.
The lead trio stayed clear, with Gough, a key member of the Vantage New Zealand elite track squad preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, used his renowned sprinting ability to good effect to claim the sprint to the line in Martinborough ahead of McCormick and Haden, who won the most combative prize.
Black Spoke Pro Cycling’s Luke Mudgway retained the yellow jersey ahead of Vantage New Zealand riders Corbin Strong, the under-23 category leader, and Gough, with the Vantage New Zealand team assuming the leading team classification.
“It was scorching especially when there are a few guys breathing down your neck. It was in the high 20s today but we are in the Martinborough valley and virtually no wind,” said Gough.
“It was a good cohesive group in the break which sometimes works better than a bigger group. I was fortunate to have two other strong riders with me. I always backed myself for a sprint finish with a small group like that so it was cool.
“It was a very fast start, a tail wind down the valley. The goal today was really to go up the road to take the pressure off my teammates and save their legs for the Admirals climb tomorrow, and if I got caught, then I got caught. So it was great to stay away and get the win.
“We stepped it back a notch we got to Martinborough and rode the laps almost to give the peloton a false sense of security. We had a minute with three laps to go, and it stayed like that with a lap to go.
“Once we got to the top of the circuit we could roll home pretty quick. Glenn was virtual yellow with a lap to go and so he pushed hard which eliminated any tactical finish, just a straight-out sprint.
“It is nice to be feeling half decent on the road. I have been haunted by a sore back but it has been good in the build-up and during the event is great.
“My job tomorrow is to keep my teammates hydrated and get them to the bottom of the big hill and watch from the back. It is a big day and we are looking forward to it.”
Stage 3, 130km, Martinborough: Regan Gough (Vantage NZL) 2:49.45, 1; Hayden McCormick (Kiwivelo) same time, 2; Glenn Haden (Couplands Bakeries) st, 3; Laurence Pithie (Vantage NZL) at 18s, 4; Campbell Stewart (Black Spoke Pro) same time 5.
General Classification: Luke Mudgway (Black Spoke Pro Cycling) 6:41:12, 1; Corbin Strong (Vantage NZL) at 15s, 2; Aaron Gate (Black Spoke) at 25s, 3; Finn Fisher-Black (Vantage NZL) at 26s, 4; Laurence Pithie (Vantage NZL) at 28s, 5.
Points: Gough 25 points, 1; Strong 13, 2; Haden 13, 3.
KOM: Mudgway 12 points, 1; Haden 6, 2; Ollie Jones (Vantage NZL) 6, 3.
Under-23: Strong 6:41:27, 1; Fisher-Black at 11s, 2; Pithie at 3s, 3.
Team: Vantage New Zealand 20:04:36, 1; Black Spoke Pro Cycling at 14s, 2; Couplands Bakeries at 1:54, 3.