Tour of New Zealand 2008 (UCI 2.2)
Martinborough - Masterton 99km
On a deceptively hot and sunny day, the peloton raced over the rolling countryside north of Wellington for Stage 2 of the Tour of New Zealand. A headwind kept everything basically together even until the first climb of the day, Strongbar Hill. An earlier attack by Japan National rider, Masami Mashimo lasted about 20 minutes. She was back in the bunch by the time the race turned right into the narrow and rising Pakaraka Road, heading towards the uphill portions of the stage profile.
As was perhaps expected, the race splintered on the climb of Te Wharau. There were three main bunches on the descent, with 15 leaders in the front group. With race leader, Suzanne De Goede (Équipe Nürnberger) in the second group, the bunch was headed by blue jerseys. They chased to close the gap and stop the threat on GC, posed by Oenone Wood, but were unable to bring the leaders back.
With 5km to go, the leading bunch had over 3 minutes on the chasers. Then, potential disaster struck, Oenone Wood had a dramatic blow out puncture. Her High Road team-mate, Judith Arndt, stopped immediately and helped paced the Australian national Champion back to the group after a rapid wheel change. The bunch had not reacted and the pair found it relatively easy to get back on.
As the leaders turned into Church Street, the sprint was already winding up. The small group were spread across the road and it was Oenone Wood who appeared to 'pop' off the front ahead of her rivals with about 75m to go. On the line, she was a clear winner, with time for a victory salute ahead of Lorian Graham and Miho Oki.
Suzanne De Goede finished at the front of her group, but at 3'37" deficit, she had to concede her leader's jersey. Oenone Wood will ride in yellow on Stage 3.
The young rider competition leader moved within the Australian team from Amanda Spratt to Carla Ryan, whilst the sprint jersey stayed with Katherine Carroll (USA).
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