Twizel to Timaru Classic wide open with biggest scratch group ever
Picking a winner of the annual Twizel to Timaru Classic is not easy with the wide open field.
For a change there are no internationals riders in the 70-strong starters but the scratch bunch is the biggest in nine years for the 151km journey, and could have the power and speed to deliver the winner.
Oamaru cyclist Rush Tim, riding from scratch, would dearly love to take out the impressive Rudge Whitworth Cup, for first across the line.
The winner of the red polka dot jersey in the Tour of Southland, Rush said the course didn't really appeal but he would give it his best shot.
"It's fast and mainly down hill, it doesn't really suit me.
"I tried to get the organisers to bring it home through the Paeroa Gorge but they weren't keen."
Rush joked he would much prefer going the other way.
"My brother (Kris) and I have hatched a plan but we will just have to wait and see.".
Another scratch rider in very good form is Timaru's Chris Karton.
Karton missed last year's race through injury but has been one of the riders to beat this season on the club circuit.
He has been battling it out with Rush and already has Gorge Grand Prix and Cycling Timaru individual time trial titles to his name.
Karton said he would love to go one better than his father Trevor, who finished second in 2008, when the race started in Christchurch.
"There are some prestigious names on the trophy, so to win would be special, but it won't be easy."
Another keen to get his hands on the trophy will be Reon Park, who will add huge horse power to the scratch bunch.
Park holds the fastest time record for the 151km journey in 3 hours, 13 minutes, 4 seconds, but has never been first across the line.
Cycling Timaru president Darren Cuthbertson said the winner in reality could come from anywhere.
"It is certainly tough race and in the Mackenzie the weather can play a big part if it is windy or bad weather hits."
The nine scratch riders will give away 84 minutes to the limit riders at the front, but the handicapper can change that on the day dependent on the weather.
Cuthbertson said the prestige of the race meant over half the field came from outside the district.
The first bunch of four away includes Timaru 's Juliann Archbold and Gail Burtenshaw, who will keep the field honest.
Previous Christchurch to Timaru winner James Arcbold is another to watch from the mid field bunches along with John Norton and James Ryder.
Further back chasing them will be Richard Quested and Christchurch's Russell Ownsworth who will both bring a lot of strength to their bunch, who give away 60 minutes to the limit riders.
On second break fast finisher Glenn Gould and the powerful Hamish Mcdonald will also be in contention, while veteran Amy Hollamby has asked to ride back on this faster mark to test herself with the men.
The break mark includes two Christchurch riders, former Tour of Southland winner Stu Lowe and defending champion Darrell Kircher,
If Kircher gets up he will only be the second back to back winner, along side Marc Ryan, since the classic first began in 1899.
Twizel to Timaru
2009 Grant Ludermann
2010 Alex McGregor
2011 Marc Ryan
2012 Luke Hurring
2013 Lauren Ellis
2014 Marc Ryan
2015 Marc Ryan
2016 Darrell Kiecher
2009 Reon Park - 3h 57m 43s
2010 Alex McGregor - 3h 29m 58s
2011 Mark Ryan - 3h 40m 45s
2012 Hamish Schreures - 3h 18m 14s
2013 Reon Park - 3h 13m 04s
2014 Marc Ryan - 3h 14m
2015 Marc Ryan - 3h 15m
2016 Scott Thomas - 3h 35m 48s