The Tour of Taranaki finished with a bang yesterday as a four-man bunch battled it out to the line in the final stage.
Central Otago rider and New Zealand under-19 representative Tom Vessey wore the tour's yellow jersey heading into the final stage at Inglewood and he held on to win the A grade by just seven seconds from Auckland's James Judd.
However, final stage honours in the three-day Powerco-sponsored event went to Christchurch's Will Bowman.
Bowman and New Plymouth standout Michael Torckler broke early on the three-lap, 27km course yesterday – working together to stay away.
"We actually got caught by two guys with 5km to go," Bowman said. "Mike went. I was pretty toast by that stage but I gave it a final dig."
The pair had been run down by Vessey and Judd, but Bowman pulled through on the final turn leading to Standish St to claim a narrow victory. "It was hard today, it was just relentless – no letup on the course."
Vessey was pleased to claim the overall title, although it "wasn't ideal" how tight Judd had made the final result.
"We got a little help from the under-19 boys [to pace us through]."
With few events around his home of Alexandra, Taranaki's tour through Kaponga, Stratford and Inglewood's back country was an excellent buildup for the Australian under-19 road champs and Junior Canberra Tour starting this month.
"If I can come and compete with the big boys, it's always a good day," Vessey said. "It's a bloody good tour. The road's quite undulating. Hard courses makes it better for competition."
For Bowman, who did not have a good start and so refocused on stage wins, the tour was his comeback from a broken leg in 2011.
He is looking ahead to the nationals and the Tour of Southland later this year.
- © Fairfax NZ News