Just five weeks after suffering a broken wrist during a race, Timaru cyclist Jack Ford won the sprinter's green jersey and the overall leader's yellow jersey in the under-15 division of the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland.
Ford, who has been cycling competitively for the last 12 months, lost valuable buildup time before the race, due to the injury suffered in the Tour of Blenheim last month, but showed no ill effects during the three-day event.
Ford started conservatively, finishing sixth in the 2.6km opening time trial, before moving into second after stage two, after he was part of a four-man breakaway that gapped the field.
Ford won the 25km third stage which put him one second off the overall lead held by Australian Sam Jenner.
The gruelling 35km fourth stage saw no change at the top of the general classification, but did see the top five riders close to within 16 seconds of each other. A smart ride on the penultimate stage five, saw Ford nab the yellow jersey off the back of Jenner by just one second.
Ford finished third in that stage, while Jenner managed seventh in the bunch finish.
The drama was by no means over, as the 35km final stage saw third-placed Sam Dobbs make a break on the field.
He quickly opened up a 10 second gap on his nearest competitor, a margin which would have given him the tour win. A three-man fightback from Ford, Laughlan McGregor and Jessie Crabb, was not enough to catch Dobbs, as he crossed the finish line to win the stage by two seconds.
However, Ford's efforts were well worth it, as his last-ditch attempt had cut Dobbs' winning margin enough to see the Timaru rider win the yellow jersey by three seconds. Ford also took out the top sprinter's green jersey through consistent riding over the sprint stages.
Story and photo courtesy of The Timaru Herald