Promising young cyclists roll into town

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The leaders of the under 15 boys division congratulate each other after the final race.

MORE than 100 promising road cyclists from around the country rolled into Southland last week for New Zealand’s premier junior stage cycle race.  Canterbury dominated the yellow jerseys, claiming five of the eight titles.

Southlander Jaz Mcleod was the only rider from the region to claim a win, taking out the U13 girls’ division. Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton said there were perfect racing conditions and some intense riding across all age divisions with Jaz pipping Sarah Ford, from Otago, with a powerful ride through the hills on stage four helping her to win the overall title.

The other Southlander who came close to a win was rising star Corbin Strong, but he was beaten by Canterbury rider Felix Donnelly.  The action was just as tight in the U19 division, he said.
“Judges had to go back to the first stage time trial to determine the winner with Ethan Batt judged to have won it ahead of Southlander Sam Miller by just a tenth of a second,” Hotton said.

Now in its 33rd year, the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland constantly attracted a high calibre of junior riders looking to gain invaluable road cycling experience while also staking a claim for higher national honours, he said.

Some of the competitors during the junior stage cycle race.
Some of the competitors during the junior stage cycle race.

The three-day tour started on Friday with a time trial and kermesse at Teretonga Park, and the Beast of the East and the New Vale circuit stages at Te Tipua on Saturday.   That was followed by the inner city criterium and Grove Bush circuit on Sunday.

Tour director Danielle Ralph was delighted with the quality of the racing throughout the tour.
“We knew the racing would be good in the U17 divisions, but it was at such a high and close level across all the grades. It was also great to see those slightly off the pace who still battled on.

“The Yunca is not an easy tour but those that had the determination to complete it will look back on the experience with pride.”Yellow jersey winners: Jaz McLeod (Southland) – U13 girls; Jaxson Whyte (South Canterbury) – U13 boys; Erin Downie (Canterbury) – U15 girls; Laurence Pithie (Canterbury) – U15 boys; Britney Kerr (Nelson) – U17 girls; Felix Donnelly (Canterbury) – U17 boys; Charlotte McGill (Canterbury) – U19 women; Ethan Batt (Marlborough), U19 men.

– Jonathan Dine

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