Date: Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Posted by: Cycling Southland

The first day of road nationals is time trial day. It was a fine day with the wind swinging from a moderate to a stiff throughout the day. The course incorporated a decent climb at 1km from the finish which was required to be pasted over on the way out as well.
We had some good results but no podiums.
Under 17 boys: Hamish Keast 6th, Sam Miller 8th, Corbin Strong 13th
Under 19 boys: Tom Sexton 8th, Hayden Strong 19th
Sam Kopae 5th
Stephen Keast 14th

The road race comprised of a 26km circuit with an almighty hill that went on for a good 8km's with a descent that would test every riders bike handling.

Sam was first up on Thursday morning on what was a warm and relatively windless day. Sam finished in 10th.

The under 17 boys were next up on Friday morning unfortunately this wasn't such a good day, cool with drizzly rain for the warm up and start of their race but luckily clearing after about 1/2 a lap.  As with all the races the first time up the climb sorted out those who just could not climb and such was the course that this would determine their fate within the first 10km's.

At the end of the first lap the three Southland boys were in part of a select lead bunch of around half the field. On the descent of the second lap Hamish Keast took a flyer past the bunch only to come to grief around the corner effectively putting him out of the race although he was able to continue on his bike back to the start finish line before receiving some treatment in the ambo. Meanwhile, Sam and Corbin remain active at the front of the bunch. A break of 3 went clear at the beginning of the second lap and Sam was quickly across to it. These 4 built up a lead of over 1 minutes before the bunch started to chase. Sam kicked hard over the last climb to drop 2 of the 4 break away riders with the chasing bunch which was now down to 12 just 20 seconds behind. Sam held on to the lead to the line to take the gold medal with a well-executed ride. Corbin was in the chasing bunch and finished in 7th place 17 seconds behind Sam.

Brendan Akeroyd and Alistair Burnett were also racing on Saturday morning in the masters 2 age group. Red looked comfortable the first time we saw him, that was in the neutral zone. The hill got the better of him but he fought on with a couple of others and to his credit he finished the race.  In his words ` I got the most value for money’ 😁.   By the end of the race there were 3 riders clear to contest the medals with Brendon leading home the chase group for 4th place.

Stephen Keast rode on Saturday afternoon with the weather a bit better by then. As he said before the race it would a big challenge for him a stay with the leaders over the climb. Well he managed to for at least the first lap. He finished with a small bunch midway down the field.

Sunday it's was the turn of the under 19's Hayden Strong & Tom Sexton and also Anton O'Connell in the U23 age group.

The first time up the hill had the 55 strong U19 field split in two. This looked for all money to be game over for those in the second group. Hayden was riding "strongly" 😊 at the front of the first group well Tom had missed the split. By the end of the first lap however the second group had worked so well together they had re-joined with the front group. Tom worked hard within this chasing bunch. Hayden retained a constant presence at front of the bunch and was away in a break at 3 different times off the top of the climb although most of the strongest riders were in these breaks nothing stuck and by the last 5km's  of the 4 laps it was a 20 strong bunch heading for a sprint finish. Hayden and 4 others got a small gap over the climb 1 km from the finish but couldn't make it stick so it's was a mass sprint for the line. Hayden finished 7th and Tom 12th

Anton racing 6 laps with the elite's rode a strong race in a field with some well-known names of NZ cycling. With an attack off the front from Gordon McCauley and Michael Torckler right from the get go the pace was on.  By the hill on the 5th lap Anton’s the legs were beginning to tire but he fought on with a small bunch to finish in 15th place in the U23 section.

Thanks for the full report courtesy Manager Alan Strong

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