Batt, Searle dominate on first day of 40/50

23:30, Dec 07 2012

Summery riding conditions on the first stage of the seven-stage 40/50 Tour gave way to chilly showers in the second stage from Golden Downs, with fresh snow on the mountains during the first day of the three-day veterans' race.

The warmth of the Alpine Lodge at the end was a welcome sight for the riders.

By the end of the first day, Nick Batt and Eileen Searle had banked more time in their leaders' jerseys.

Judy Ross rode into the 40+ leader's position and Neil Blayney held the 50+ men's jersey.

Stage one from Hope to Richmond had the women start first, with an early sprint near Brightwater.

Ross (Cavalieri del Razzo) took first points ahead of Julie Turner (Wildside Travel), with women's tour leader Searle (Wildside Travel) grabbing the third-place points.


In the men's sprint, Peter Wilkinson benefited from a long lead out from team-mates to secure the win, Tony Blakely (Capital Cycles) in second and Mike Sanders (Mortgage Planners/Mt Eden Cycles) in third.

The sprint riders then contested the first Lonestar Queen and King of the Mountains jerseys, with the 2km rise testing the group.

Searle, who has been unbeaten up the climbs in previous tours, carried on her winning streak, with Andrea Livingston (Wildside Travel) in second, and Turner third.

In the men's race, team Nelson Alarms sent a clear message to the field that they had ascending power, taking the top three spots over the top of Mt Heslington. Rob Searle led, with Andy MacDonald next, followed by Glenn Bussell.

The next challenge was a sprint in Wakefield. For the women, Livingston crossed first with Ross second and Turner third.

Sanders jumped ahead to win the men's sprint ahead of Andy MacDonald and Auckland's Gavin Lendich (Mortgage Planners).

The action continued in the stage with another Lonestar Queen and King of the Mountains on Eighty-eight Valley Hill. Searle pulled away to take maximum points ahead of Livingston in second, with Ross third.

Rob Searle followed Eileen's lead and won the men's climb, Macdonald in second and Grant Bourke in third.

The peloton began to split up after the climbs and the steep ramp on to Reay Saddle ensured it did.

Eileen Searle rode over the top clear of Ross, with Livingston in third.

Rob Searle powered over the line in the men's race with tour leader Batt in second and Blayney in third.

Once over the Reay Saddle it was a fast ride down to Golden Downs for the stage finish. It was an abrupt ending, because of an unexpected forestry road closure.

Batt retained the yellow jersey and Eileen Searle held the pink jersey.

Stage two began at Golden Downs, climbed over Kerrs Hill and finished at St Arnaud.

The race began with a road sprint 4km into the stage. For the women, Ross in the sprinters' green jersey took maximum points ahead of Turner, with Vicky Mudford in third.

For the men, Wilkinson won a long sprint over Sanders with Lendich third.

The field then attacked Kerrs Hill, a major climb in the tour. Eileen Searle was once again unstoppable, with Livingston and Kay Goodall drawing for second.

Today's two stages comprised an 80km ride to Tadmor Saddle via Hope Saddle, then a return stage through Korere to finish at the Lake Rotoiti Outdoor Education Centre.

Nelson Alarms lead the teams classification, with Mortgage Planners-Mount Eden Cycles second and Capital Cycles third.