HUNTER Gough sprinted to a photo finish in the Geo W Wilson and Sons Ltd Gore to Waikiwi Classic cycle race on Saturday.
Conditions were far from perfect for a strong field which lined up across three events – the Open Classic from Gore to Waikiwi, the Junior Classic from Hedgehope to Waikiwi, and the Under 13 Classic from Mabel Bush to Waikiwi, with cold, wind, and occasional hail showers leading up to the start of the event.
The race was contested as a handicap, with the fastest riders, including Gough, setting out last, and having to race through the rest of the field to get to the front.
Working together well, the scratch group made their way through the field, with Morgan Borrie, Blake Tait-Jones, Matt Zenovich, Hamish Keast, and Gough all contributing to the workload.
However, the pace started to tell on some of the riders in the group, by the time they had made it through the field and started pushing for the line, only Keast, Zenovich, and Gough were left.
Coming into the line, Zenovich took the lead, with Gough on his wheel, and Keast in third.
Zenovich opened the sprint early up the left side of the road, with Gough popping out on his right as they sprinted for the line.
The win came down to a bike throw, with Gough’s throw so violent his front wheel left the ground. However, it was good enough to take the win, with Zenovich in second and Keast in third.
The next group to finish was led home by the first veteran, Gene Marsh, and also contained Rhylee Akeroyd, who was the fastest female finisher.
In the Junior Classic, Marshall Erwood started solo on scratch, and raced through the field to take a solo win at the end. Frankie Thomson came home in second, with Caitlin Kelly taking the bunch sprint for third.
Cooper Gough, the younger brother of Open Classic winner Hunter, took out the Under 13 classic, with Oskar McIvor taking second (and fastest time), ahead of Benjie Shayler in third.
Speaking after the race, Gough said he relished racing in tough conditions, but most of his praise was for his younger brother.
“I’ve been taking him out training the last couple of weeks. I saw him on the track last night, and he’s got a good head on him. I can’t wait to see what he can do.”
The next major event on the Cycling Southland calendar is the Stonewood Homes Gore to Invercargill Classic, taking place on August 28.