British champion Peter Kennaugh foiled the sprinters with a late attack to earn Team Sky’s first victory of the 2016 pro cycling season.
In a victory reminiscent of his Criterium du Dauphine stage one triumph in 2015, Kennaugh bolted clear of a splintered peloton on the final lap – using the Challambra climb as a platform his attack – and could not be brought back.
After Chris Lawless (JLT Condor), Mike Cuming (State of Matter) and Kristian House (ONE Pro Cycling) all won stages at the New Zealand Cycle Classic, Kennaugh’s victory is also the biggest British success of the season so far too.
On the day Mark Cavendish made his Team Dimension Data debut, it was his fellow Manxman Kennaugh who instead stole the headlines with another display of what he is capable of.
The day had started with a rapid pace being set in the bunch, though it wasn’t until the first intermediate sprint a break went clear, instigated by Patrick Lane (Avanti-Isowhey).
Lane, Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing), Josh Berry (St George Merida) and Adrian Heryvary (UnitedHealthCare) made the move and were allowed to build up a sizable lead.
Undeterred House and Morgan Smith (Kenyan Riders Downunder) bridged across, with the advantage more than six minutes when they joined the leaders ahead of the second sprint.
Several teams worked to bring the gap back though, including Orica-GreenEDGE through Mitchell Docker and Lotto-Soudal’s Thomas de Gendt – their efforts also thinning the peloton in the process.