Success is the only way that can describe Pure Black Racing’s first race in the USA, the San Dimas Stage Race. The Kiwi team added some color to its black kit with Roman Van Uden and Mike Northey winning the KOM polka-dot jersey and the Green Sprint jersey respectively.
After a week of training at altitude at Big Bear Lake, the team was using the 3-day stage race to build-up to the NRC opener, the Redlands Bicycle Classic. With no rider cracking the top 20 on the time trial, the team turn its sights to stage 2, the tough road race. And that’s when Van Uden and Northey, along with a Jamis/Sutter Home’s Eric Schildge, escaped the field on the first of 12 laps.
“I saw Roman up the road and jumped across, we just managed to stay out there, he took the KOM and I took the sprints.” Northey explained on Sunday. The team knew that the KOM jersey could be won that day.
Knowing that they would be reeled in, the duo split the points. “I knew it was a long day and we’d thought we’d be tired by the end. And traditionally this race is brought back together.” Van Uden said.
By the end of the day, Van Uden had claimed the overall KOM classification with no more points available on the third stage. It was time to focus on Northey’s jersey.
The final crit offered three opportunities for points, two HotSpot sprints and the finish. Northey took aim at the intermediate sprints. “I knew that I had to win one of them to seal it because if the guy that won yesterday won the final again, he would have made 50 points. So I won that, still felt good so I went for the second one and won that as well. Shem [Rodger] and Jim Williamson gave me an awesome leadout.”
Northey outsprinted Tyler Wren (Jamis/Sutter Home) to take top points on both to seal the green.
Then the finish sprint. “It was pretty crazy out there the last few laps. Being the first race of the season, you don’t really want to put too much skin on the line. I was in good position coming down the back straight and then someone dive bombed me into the fence pretty much so that was my race done. “ Northey added with a smile. “Got the jersey.”
All Blacks. The all-Kiwi team is new to the North American scene and relatively new to the professional cycling scene; it was launched in July 2010. The goal is to become New Zealand’s first international UCI World Tour road cycling team with entry to the Tour de France by 2015. The name was chosen to bring the flavor of the All Blacks, the well-known New Zealand men’s national rugby union team.
“This is out stepping stone towards Europe, a 4 to 5 years goal to be Pro Tour level in 5 years. First two years, aim to race in America and step up to Europe.” Northey said.
The team, lead by America’s Cup yachtsman, Star Class World Champion and Olympian, Carl Williams, will compete in the USA and Asia. Prior to San Dimas, the team raced in Singapore and will race in China later on this year.
While the team is new, many of its riders are well-versed in US racing, including Glen Chadwick who raced previously with the Navigators, Team Type 1 and Rock Racing squads. Van Uden and Northey both raced with the Rubicon-ORBEA squad these past two years.
22-year old Van Uden made his mark when he won the criterium at the 2009 Tour of the Gila and along with a stage win at the Tour of Southland, Northey took a stage and finished 3rd at the Tour of the Dairyland.
2010 was 24-year old Northey’s best season ever – so far. “We were always lucky that we had a lot of Kiwi on the team but having a full kiwi squad is pretty cool.”
Both young riders expressed how “awesome” it was to race for a Kiwi team.
“I’ve never ridden for my country before and it’s a bunch of Kiwi guys. It’s a bigger team that I’m used to and a lot stronger riders, more consistency. Yeah it’s cool to be in a Kiwi kit in the US here with a bunch of your mates from home.” Van Uden said.
As for his goals for the year, Van Uden is looking at Philly in June. “We have Mexico coming up and I’m aiming to have some top results in that. I’m not sure if I’m going to Gila or not but I’d really love to do Philly. I’d love to do that, not sure if I’ll make the cut.”
Northey is unsure about his goals so far. “I don’t know. I’m the sprinter on the team even though I’m not a full on sprinter.” But he wants to win and “be the guy that’s in the break, be aggressive. Roman and I are similar riders.”
Next race for the squad is Redlands Bicycle Classic where the team hopes to mix it up again.
“Hopefully we can do it again. Get in a breakaway and do it again” Van Uden laughed.
The Pure Black Racing squad for Redlands Bicycle Classic is Tim Gudsell, Glen Chadwick, Daniel Barry, Scott Lyttle, Mike Northey, Shem Rodger, Roman Van Uden and James Williamson