Revamped course, weather challenge junior tour cyclists

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Mitchel Fitzsimons takes a stage win in Invercargill. Photo: Supplied

TOP national junior cycling talent competed in the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland last weekend, with a revamped course challenging riders with six stages spread over three days.

Rather than be based mostly around Invercargill, the route took riders around Southland, with day one based out of Wyndham for two tough road race stages, and day two out of Bluff, with a kermesse along the foreshore, before a hill climb time trial up Bluff Hill.

On the final day of racing the weather turned sour, with riders starting with a very wet inner-city criterium on Sunday morning. There were some concerns surface flooding would have an adverse effect on the afternoon’s road race stage at Grove Bush, but the disruption was minimal.

The cold and rain did make the final stage very challenging for the riders, and that, coupled with some hard racing, caused the leader’s yellow jersey to change hands in some of the divisions.

In the under-13 girls’ race it was all about Renee Harrison, who won five of the six stages, with the exception of the Bluff Hill time trial, which was taken out by Southland’s Poppy McIvor.

Harrison took the title, ahead of McIvor in second, with Sophie Best in third. The sprint jersey went to Alexis Manuel, with Harrison also taking the Queen of the Mountain jersey.

In the under-13 boys’ race, Flynn Turnbull led the race after a strong performance on the opening stage gave him the lead, with Conor Toomey in second, and Austin Tunnicliffe in third. Tunnicliffe took the sprint jersey, while Turnbull also claimed the King of the Mountain jersey.

In the under-15 girls’ division, Kirsty Watts led the race all the way, taking four stage wins. Millie Donald took second, with Alice Barnes third. Watts also took the Queen of the Mountain and sprint jerseys.

Noah Hollamby claimed the under-15 boys’ division, taking four stages along the way, with Carter Guichard second, and Magnus Jamieson third. Hollamby also took out the sprint competition, while Guichard took the King of the Mountain jersey.

Arabella Tuck put in a dominant performance in the under-17 women’s division, winning five of the six stages. Amye Kellow took second, with Jaz McLeod third. The sprint jersey went to Muireann Green, with Tuck taking Queen of the Mountain.

The under-17 men’s division saw the yellow jersey change hands multiple times, with Marshall Erwood taking the jersey after the first stage, followed by James Gardiner, who wore it for two stages before it moved on to Jaxson Whyte, who managed to hold on to it until the end of the race, ahead of Oliver Watson-Palmer in second and Elliot Robertson in third. The sprint jersey went to Watson-Palmer, who also took out the King of the Mountain title.

Henrietta Christie took out three stages on her way to taking the under-19 women’s division, with Charlotte Spurway taking second, and Rhylee Akeroyd third. The sprint classification went to Jenna Borthwick, who also took two stage wins, with Christie taking the Queen of the Mountain title.

The yellow jersey was passed from rider to rider in the under-19 men’s division, with Hunter Gough claiming it after the first stage, only to lose it to Navarh Brotherston after the second stage. Brotherston wore the jersey for two stages before it passed to Jack Drage following the Stage 4 hill climb, with Drage holding a 1-second advantage over Brotherston.

Drage held the jersey going into the final stage, but there was significant drama as he succumbed to the cold and had to abandon the race, with Brotherston reclaiming the yellow jersey and taking the title, ahead of Hunter Gough in second, and Guy Yarrell in third. Mitchel Fitzsimons took the sprint jersey, with Brotherston claiming the King of the Mountain jersey.

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