It may have taken to the final few hundred metres of this year's Yunca Junior Tour of Southland, but Cycling Southland's Josh Haggerty ended his junior cycling career in the best possible fashion yesterday.
The Junior Worlds track representative and reigning National Road champion capped a memorable year by sweeping all three Under 19 Men's jerseys in the 30th anniversary of the three-day junior road cycling event. Heading in to yesterday's final 114 kilometre stage at Grove Bush with a deficit of 6 seconds Haggerty was targeting the King of the Mountain and Sprint Ace jerseys but once he had both those classifications under lock and key he set his sights on the overall title.
“The cross-winds died down over the back of the course on the final lap so I decided to leave it to the final climb. I saw I had a couple of second gap, so I looked back a couple of times and once I got my speed up I just kept going to the finish,” Haggerty said.
Haggerty's four second stage victory and associated time bonuses pushed him clear of Tasman's Cameron Ford by 4 seconds to claim his first Yunca Junior Tour title. “I’ve done this tour since I was a first year Under 15 and I’ve only ever been King of the Mountain. My best placing was third last year so to come back this year and win all three jerseys is pretty awesome in a tour I've loved since I started,” Haggerty said.
Southland also tasted success in the Under 19 Women with Laura Heywood taking yesterday morning's criterium before backing up to win the afternoon stage and claim the tour victory by five seconds from North Harbour's Renee Wooten.
The Under 17 Boys race proved to be another nail-biter with Bike Manawatu's Campbell Stewart and Taupo's Sam Dobbs ending the three days tied on time with the final result going Dobbs' way on a count-back.
Bryony Botha claimed the Under 17 girls title by 4 seconds from Manawatu's Michaela Drummond while both Nicole Shields (Central Otago-Wakatipu) and Josh Scott (Papanui, Christchurch) capped dominant tours winning their respective Under 15 categories, capped with stage victories yesterday afternoon. Counties Manukau's Ally Wollaston was unbeaten over the six stages to take out the Under 13 Girls title and overall Under 13 Sprint Ace while Hamilton's Drew Christensen took away the Under 13 Boys title.
Attention now switches to the track with the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome hosting Cycling Southland's traditional ILT-sponsored Junior track Carnival on Tuesday and Wednesday night, starting at 6:30pm with tickets available from the door on the night.