Young riders take on tour challenge

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The Yunca Junior Tour of Southland will feature some of the country’s top junior riders taking to the roads of Southland this weekend. Photo: Cycling Southland

THE Yunca Junior Tour of Southland has been an incubator for some of New Zealand’s top cycling talent throughout the years, and the 2020 edition will offer challenges aplenty for budding young cycling talent.

The event, which begins tomorrow and goes until Sunday, will see riders take on six stages during three days as they battle to be awarded the coveted yellow jersey in their age group.

Tour manager Glen Thomson, working alongside the event organising committee, came up with a refreshed route which would challenge riders with the varied terrain Southland had to offer.

“The course changes are motivated by the original ethos of the race.

“Terry Young’s idea for the Yunca Tour was to bring out-of-town riders here to make the Southland riders stronger, and we wanted to make it more challenging with more hills,” Thomson said.

Rather than be based at Teretonga Park, near Invercargill, as it had been in the past, the opening day of the tour would be based out of Wyndham, featuring two road stages.

Stage 1 tomorrow morning would see riders take on a tough circuit featuring some challenging climbing, ranging from 18km for the under-13 riders to 70km for the under-19 men, and would decide the first wearer of the yellow leader’s jersey in each division, as well as the Sprint Ace jersey, and the King and Queen of the mountains’ jerseys.

Stage 2 would take place tomorrow afternoon, with distances ranging from 18km to 56km, with the out and back route again featuring quite a hilly profile.

The second day of racing on Saturday would take riders to Bluff, for two new stages of the tour.

Saturday morning would feature a kermesse, a race on a short circuit along the Bluff waterfront and the flat profile should give the sprinters a chance to take a stage win.

Stage 4 on Saturday afternoon would feature a hill climb individual time trial up the steep slopes of Bluff Hill.

The final day would start with the traditional Stage 5 inner-city criterium, with riders racing on a tight circuit around the city block.

Stage 6 on Sunday afternoon would start in Grove Bush, and was another stage which would be familiar to riders.

It would feature some challenging climbs again, with distances ranging between 14km and 90km, depending on age group, and had quite often decided who took home the coveted yellow jersey.

“Bluff is just such an iconic place to race, and they have been so welcoming, as has Wyndham. Hosting stages in these towns also shows our local riders and the riders from out of town these other great parts of Southland,” Thomson said.

This year the Junior Tour of Southland formed part of an exciting week of cycling for Southland, as the velodrome would also host two major track events next week.

On Tuesday, October 6, and Wednesday, October 7, the velodrome would host the Schools Track Championships featuring some of the best secondary school riders from throughout New Zealand.

From Friday, October 9, to Sunday, October 11, the velodrome would host a round of the National Track Series, focusing on the development of under-17, under-19, and under-23 riders.

It would be an exciting opportunity for Southland riders to be able to race in three major events in Southland, after a cycling season which had been severely disrupted this year.

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