The weather wrecked havoc on the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland today, forcing the cancellation of the scheduled afternoon stage at Te Tipua.
The 2012 field gamely battled the elements in the morning third stage on the aptly named "Beast of the East" circuit at Te Tipua in Eastern Southland, with the driving sleet and snow showers and strong cross-winds making for an even more beastly experience than normal.
Corbin Strong (Cycling Southland) picked up his second successive stage win beating Tour leader Hamish Keast and Bailey Ford to the line in a sprint finish. Keast's lead is 17 seconds to Ford with Sprint Ace Strong a further 6 seconds adrift in third. Britney Kerr extended her lead in the Under 13 Girls with an impressive ride to finish with the boys and take the stage by over three minutes, extending her classification lead to 4:54 with a day to race.
The Under 15 Girls saw the tour leaders grab contrasting stage wins. Tori Saunders left the field in her wake, recording a solo victory by 1:18 seconds over Phoebe McCaughen with Beth Rees in third 2:12 behind the winner. Saunders' GC buffer is now a commanding 1:38 over McCaughen and only disaster tomorrow will keep her form taking home the 2012 title. She currently leads all three of the grade's classifications and will wear yellow while the Sprint Ace jersey will start tomorrow on the back of Jessie Saunders and McCaughen will wear the Queen of the Mountains jersey.
The Under 15 Boys was again decided by a sprint finish and as was the case yesterday, Campbell Stewart had the legs to take the win over Joshua Toovey and Josh Carpenter. Stewart's overall lead is 19 seconds to King of the Mountains Chris Denholm, while Carpenter will wear the green sprint ace jersey with tour leader Stewart having a commanding 10 point lead in that classification.
The Under 17 girls and U19 women also finished in a bunch with Madison Farrant the first U17 across the line from Kate Stewart, Olivia Podmore and Ione Johnson. That saw Farrant leap in to the tour lead by just three seconds over sprint leader Podmore with Charlotte Hand in third a further three seconds back. The Under 19 women is also a tight affair with less than a second separating stage three winner and new tour leader Alice Hay and Cassie Cameron.
The Under 17 Boys has a new leader with Jack Edwards, courtesy of his stage win this morning going in to yellow. He and fellow Australian Michael Storer, who will take the King of the Mountain jersey in to Sunday, rode impressively to grab a breakaway stage victory. Sprint leader Regan Gough led the bunch home in third.
Meanwhile, for the second successive day, Liam Aitcheson left the Under 19 Men's field behind in taking another hugely impressive victory. Aitcheson made his move on the first of three laps opening up a lead of a minute over the field. He found assistance from Ayden Toovey and Matt Zenovich over the final lap and was able to kick clear of Toovey in the final sprint to take a 4 second stage victory, with Zenovich grabbing third at 46 seconds and Josh Haggerty leading the bunch home 1:29 after Aitcheson. Aitcheson also appears to have the sprint classification sewn up with a 19 point lead. Chad Elliston will wear the green jersey tomorrow morning courtesy of Aitcheson's grip on yellow, while Zenovich leads the KOM with a day to ride.
With the scheduled fourth stage being sensibly abandoned, racing resumes with the traditional Sunday morning inner city criterium from outside Wensley's Cycles on Tay Street from 8:30am Sunday morning, with the final stage to take place from the Grove Bush Hall Sunday afternoon.
Full results of this morning's racing will be posted later in the day.