Tough hill likely to determine REV race

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2014

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A 3km section of road is likely to decide the eventual winner of today's REV Cycle Festival elite 135km race.

The steep stretch on Maungakawa Rd comes in the final 35km lap in the race, after the riders have completed the larger 100km lap from Cambridge to Matamata and back again.

Whoever is first over that hill is being tipped as a likely winner in the race, and plenty of moves are expected from the peloton at that point.

Race manager Kevin Endres said riders could take several strategies, and some will attack right at the start on French Pass.

The race then settles into undulating  ''typical Waikato'' roads, which will be tough on any riders who break free as well as members of the chasing pack.

''The course we have designed and have in place is not a predictable course,'' Endres said.

''Anyone is in with a chance. When you come back through the start-finish line after that first 100km lap, I doubt you'll see many people out in front.

''As soon as they get to Maungakawa, that's going to decide the race.''

Last year's winner, Shem Rodger, was first over Maungakawa, and said he would agree that the first to the top would have a good chance at victory.

This year's preparation hasn't been as good as last year for Rodger, bu  he said he was still an outside chance at winning again this year.

''Definitely, Maungakawa is where you can win or lose the race,'' he said.

''I'd say you have to be in the first group getting over there, or you're out. Last year it was me and another guy over the top first, and I held him off to the finish.

''There were seven of us at the bottom of the climb. I'd be surprised if something similar didn't happen again.''

Endres said there would  be a mix of strategies throughout the race to give riders the best chance of getting over Maungakawa first.

''There are so many strategies you can go with,'' he said.

''From the feedback we've had, they say it's the hardest one-day road race in the country.

''It's not the longest race, and doesn't have the biggest mountains, but it's a tough slog. It takes it out of you.''

A strong field is taking part in the 135km event, including last year's top-three finishers and several professionals.

The 100km race includes the BikeNZ elite women's track cycling squad, while triathletes Kate McIlroy, Aaron Barclay and Tom Davison will also be taking part.

The elite race winner takes home the Jack Swart Trophy.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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