Two in a row for Batt, Searle

Last updated 13:00 10/12/2012
Glenn Bussell
PATRICK HAMILTON/Fairfax NZ
FINAL SPRINT: Glenn Bussell of Richmond crosses the finish line at the end of the three-day 40/50 Tour.

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Eileen Searle and Nick Batt have won the sixth 40/50 Tour, repeating their winning efforts from the 2011 veterans' cycling tour.

The pair showed their intentions early, finishing on top in Thursday's prologue and thereafter riding superb races, constantly pacing themselves and putting in the right efforts and right times to emerge victorious in Hope yesterday.

Both riders had strong team support and plenty of on-road racing experience to draw on over the six-stage, three-day event.

The teams classification was won by Nelson Alarms-Alpine Lodge, with Mortgage Brokers-Mount Eden Cycles second and Capital Cycles third.

Searle was also crowned Queen of the Mountain and Rob Searle King of the Mountain, winning the best climbers' jerseys.

Peter Wilkinson won the green jersey for Sprint Ace Male while Judy Ross claimed the Sprint Ace Female.

The final day of racing started with a 45km ride to Kohatu Junction, incorporating Kerrs Hill.

A sprint at Kikiwa saw a breakaway group of Andy MacDonald, Tony Blakely and Glenn Bussell pluck the sprint points, and the trio kept the tempo high in an effort to get the mountain points on Kerrs Hill.

But the power and steady speed of Batt and Rob Searle's climbing legs saw the breakaway gap reduced and pressure applied.

Over the top of Kerrs Hill, Bussell won the points, with Blakely second and MacDonald third, but the entourage was right on them and soon the lead trio was a group of five.

Surprisingly, Blayney was dropped but his team-mates rallied and limited the damage of time lost.

MacDonald fought hard and won the sprint to take the stage, ahead of Batt, with Blakely third.

The women's sprint at Kikiwa was taken out by Andrea Livingston with Eileen Searle second and Kay Goodall in third.

By the top of Kerrs Hill the same three changed order with Searle in front, Livingston in the middle and Goodall at the rear.

The three women riding for Wildside Travel finished together at the end of the stage, collectively holding the Queen of the Mountains, 40+ and 50+ as well as the Tour Leader jerseys.

The last stage was 40km over Spooners Range to Hope.

The final mountain sprint saw Eileen Searle clean-sweeping all eight primes with Livingston second and Goodall in third place.

Bussell was the first man to reach the top, with Rob Searle next, slipstreamed by Blakely.

Into the home straight and Bussell sprinted to take the stage, his win a testament to the dominance of the Nelson Alarms/Alpine Lodge team. Neil Blayney placed second and Rob Searle came in third.

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On Saturday, Nelson Lakes National Park had greeted the 40/50 Tour riders with clear morning skies and a fresh dusting of snow on the distant ranges on day two.

The first stage of the day was an 81km journey down the Upper Buller Valley, turning at Kawatiri Junction for a steady climb up the Kawatiri Valley, over Hope Saddle to Kohatu Junction.

From there the riders passed through Tapawera and then made their way up the long, gradual ascent to Tadmor Saddle, the final 1km being a snappy climb.

The sprinters chased points at Lake Station while the Queen and King of the Mountains battled on Hope Saddle.

The end of the stage was sweated out under hot sunshine as the riders fought over their machines to get to the top.

Tour leader Batt set a gazelle's pace up the climb to win the stage, next in was Rob Searle and Grey Jersey wearer (50+ leader) Neil Blayney in third.

Supported by team-mate Eileen Searle, Livingston climbed to victory to win the stage and ride into the women's 40+ leaders' jersey, with Ross in third.

It looked as if riders would be rinsed with rain on the day's second stage, but after a few threatening drops a favourable tail wind started building.

Stage four got under way, a 45km stage to St Arnaud climbing up Korere Tophouse, a incline rising 400m.

The stage ended with a 300m climb to the Lake Rotoiti Outdoor Education Centre. The hill top finished suited Rob Searle who led Batt over the line, with Blayney in third.

Wildside Travel riders Eileen Searle and Livingston drew for the stage win with Ross fighting hard and earning third.

Livingston had banked some precious time, which all but secured the 40+ women's jersey.

- The Nelson Mail

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