Glorious weather greeted the riders taking part in New Zealand's Forrest Grape Ride Gran Fondo on 7 April who were treated to perfect cycling conditions of 25C° temperatures and a gentle breeze, on a sunny autumn day.
The only UCI Gran Fondo World Series qualifying event to be held in New Zealand in 2018, the course took riders through the famed Marlborough region in the South East of the South Island. Wine proved a key theme of the Forrest Grape Ride, with the event hosted at the award-winning Forrest Wines Winery in Renwick.
The 101km UCI qualifier course for the Varese World Championships took riders out through the vineyards of the Wairau plain, to the seaside port town of Picton, and on through the Marlborough Sounds countryside, before passing into the greenlip mussel capital of Havelock and back to the finish at the Forrest Estate. Around 1,700 riders took part in this varied course.
At the head of the field a group finish saw Nick Ward take first, leading his age group 19-34, two seconds behind was Henry Kersten in second place, leading his age group 45-49, while four seconds behind the winning time was Alastair Duff taking third place, and second overall in his age group 45-49.
For the women, returning champion Alice Chaplin took first place again, leading the female 40-44 age group. In second place overall and leading the 19-34 age group was Emma Smith, while Rhonda Gardner took third overall and second place in the 40-44 age group respectively.
Alongside the qualifying UCI Gran Fondo World Series 101km course, cyclists of various abilities could enjoy a range of routes, from the 202km Magnum ride to the 42km Nissan Taster Course.