Vink fires warning shot in New Zealand Cycle Classic opener

Road,NZL,New Zealand Cycle Classic,Vink,Budgetforklifts,Avanti,Donnelly,Jones
Michael Vink (Adrian Rumney)

Budget Forklifts' Michael Vink drew first blood in the New Zealand Cycle Classic in Palmerston North, carving up the opening day time trial to take the early race lead.

I knew I was coming into this race with good form, and everything seemed to come together on the day just right. Four seconds is not a whole lot, but I am still happy with it.

The former under 23 New Zealand time trial champion won the opening 5.1km time trial in six minutes and 13 seconds, finishing four seconds ahead of Avanti Racing's Brenton Jones.

Jones, who was one of the earlier riders to complete the flat out-and-back course, had a long wait to see who would eclipse his time. Fellow Avanti rider Aaron Donnelly completed the podium.

http://media.sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral/upload_media/9140_jones-500-rumney.jpg

Early leader Brenton Jones (Adrian Rumney)

"It's always going to be close on such a short course but I managed to find those extra seconds and come away with the win," Vink told Cycling Central.

"I knew I was coming into this race with good form, and everything seemed to come together on the day just right. Four seconds is not a whole lot, but I am still happy with it."

The time trial provided a pleasing yardstick for Vink, who missed the New Zealand National Championships and had two weeks of the bike because of illness.

"I've just eased back into training but the rest seems to have done me a lot of good - and the result today has shown that."

Budget Forklifts will be tasked with defending Vink's lead, a mission they are only too happy to accept.

"The boys are all strong - we have a good team here and they're up for defending the jersey for the whole week. I have full confidence in it."

While he excelled in the time trial the 22 year old also has confidence in his climbing ability, with a hilltop finishing concluding the tour on Sunday.

"I had a recon of the last stage a couple of days ago. I don't think it is going to be super decisive, but I think I will be strong up there so I am looking forward to that one."

Three teams dominated the top 10 standings, with Budget Forklifts, Avanti Racing and the New Zealand National Team each having three riders at the top of the table, while  Drapac's Adam Phelan snuck into 10th place.

Thursday's second stage sees the peloton complete a 143km loop through Apiti, starting and finishing in Palmerston North.

Stage 1: 5.1km Time Trial, Palmerston North
1 Michael Vink (NZL) Budget Forklifts 6min 13sec
2 Brenton Jones (AUS) Avanti Racing 0:00:04
3 Aaron Donnelly (AUS) Avanti Racing 0:00:06
4 Hayden McCormick (NZL) New Zealand National 0:00:09
5 Tom Scully (NZL) New Zealand National 0:00:10
6 Sam Horgan (NZL) Budget Forklifts
7 Alex Wholer (AUS) Budget Forklifts 0:00:11
8 Fraser Gough (NZL) New Zealand National 0:00:12
9 Taylor Gunman (NZL) Avanti Racing 0:00:13
10 Adam Phelan (AUS) Drapac 0:00:14

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