Two photo finishes marked the opening round of Cycling Southland's Criterium series at Teretonga Raceway tonight.
In brilliant conditions a small A Grade bunch contested its 20 minutes plus two lap race. It quickly became a three-man battle between Josh Haggerty, Brad Tuhi and Matt Zenovich. The final down-wind sprint could not have been closer with Haggerty and Tuhi driving for the line side-by-side at 60 kilometres per hour. In the end the judges gave Haggerty the nod but as the photo on the left shows there was literally nothing between them.
B Grade was also shaping up for a sprint finish between the three man breakaway of Neil Familton, Bruce Jones and Matt Dodds. That was until Dodds came down as he negotiated the final corner at the top of the main straight meaning Jones had to take evasive action to stay upright and Familton was able to coast to a comfortable victory. Jones secured second and Dodds was able to dust himself off and roll across in third.
Earlier NZ sprint representative Eddie Dawkins drove the pace at the front of the bunch which saw the B-graders circling the kilometre-long course in 1 minute 28 seconds (a couple of seconds faster than A grades quickest lap). Dawkins tried valiantly to bridge the gap to the front three but couldn't and finished sixth across the line behind Aaron Sinclair (4th) and Ray Robinson (5th).
C Grade saw another great finish with Daryl Haggerty rolling Josh van den Arend right on the line and Shane McNaught who made his move as the bell sounded for the last lap but was run down down the final straight, in third place.
The final race in the criterium series will be held on April 21 in Bluff.