The 2011 Yunca Junior Tour of Southland burst into life at Teretonga Raceway today as 181 riders from all over Australasia got to know and love the 2.6 kilometre circuit.
Racing was contested across eight serarate age categories beginning with a single lap individual time trial for all grades, followed by an afternoon Kermesse over varying distances of two to six laps.
Close finishes marked the opening time trials starting with the first three riders away in the Under 13 Girls where a solitary second seperated Nicole Shields (4'41) and Kate Ward (4'42) while Madeleine Gough took third. The Boys grade was just as close with two seconds separating the first three riders as Fletcher Sharman captured the first yellow jersey of the Tour (4'42), one second ahead of Noah Mason-Smith, who in turn was just one second ahead of Kain Bowles.
It may be hard to believe but the Under 15 Girls was closer yet. The fastest four riders were separated by one solitary second. Emma Bilston (4'05) snuck home in front of last year's star turn Tahlay Christie, Hollee Simons and Jessica Marshall in an Australian clean-sweep. Again the Under 15 Boys was tough to split. Waipukarau's Corbin Mason-Smith (3'42) had to rely on tenths of seconds to beat Michael Storer from Perth while Sam Dobbs took third, three seconds in arrears.
The Under 17 saw more seperation, but not very much. Josie Talbot (3'54) continued the Australian's very good day by beating Pegasus' Holly Edmondston into second by three seconds with Steffie Holcroft third on the same time. The Under 19 Women was taken out by Julia Main (3'50) with the comparatively comfortable margin of nine seconds from Kayley Murdoch and Raquel Sheath a further second back in third.
The Under 17 Boys, with a capacity field of 50 was again split by less than a second with Owen Gillott (3'27) taking the win from Jack Edwards with a bunch of six riders all within a second of each other scapping it out for third. Dan Fitter made it an Aussie trifecta, just shading Wakatipu's Liam Aitcheson.
And the Under 19 boys was decided by, you guessed it, one second. Junior World Track representative Dylan Kennett (3'19) carried his medal winning deeds from Moscow onto Teretonga with a one second victory over Jack McCulloch with Wakatipu's Tom Vessey third just two seconds further back.
The afternoon provided just as much action with the Stage Two Kermesses. Nicole Shields opened up a seven second lead in the General Classification with a four second win over Kate Ward in the Under 13 Girls. Fletcher Sharman also made it two from two with a sprint finish victory over Kain Bowles as the first six riders all finished on the same time.
The Under 15 Girls saw Hollee Simons and Emma Bilston break clear one lap from home and stayed away to snare 17 seconds on the chasing bunch, Simons taking line honours with Bilston claiming the overnight yellow jersey. Pocket rocket Olivia Podmore sprinted the bunch to get up for third. The Under 15 boys race followed a similar pattern with a four man breakaway leading to a 15 second break at the finish. Samuel Jenner took line hours with Jack Ford, Greg Westerman and Jessie Crabb all claiming the same time.
The Under 17 Girls stayed together all the way to the line with all but four riders registering the same time. Alice Hay took out the sprint to the tape from Kate Stewart and Lara Batkin while the Under 19 Women were all buried in the same bunch and all registered the same time, Julia Main making it a double on the day with Racquel Sheath second and Sarah Tomlinson third.
No separating the Under 17 boys though. 42 of the 50 finishing with the same time. Chad Elliston of Counties Manakau spoiling the Australian benfit by grabbing line hours from Jack Edwards and Owen Gillott.
The Under 19 Men featured a powerful ride from Auckland's Ben Park who broke away twice during the race to grab sprint points and then the stage win by 3 seconds from the rest of the field who all finished together three seconds back. Tayla Harrison claimed second with Jack McCulloch completing a solid day in third.
Saturday's action centres on Te Tipua for a morning stage around the challenging Beast of the East circuit before the afternoon Solid Energy New Vale Coal circuit.
For full Stage and Classification results click here.
TOUR VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS