The quest for a coveted yellow jersey ends on Friday night for young Southland riders battling it out in the Baxter and Neilson Series.
An impressive field of more than 50 cyclists have been competing at Stadium Southland’s ILT Velodrome each month since February, each with their sights set on securing the yellow jersey up for grabs in each of the six grades.
Cycling Southland junior convenor Dave Beadle said the series was an integral pathway for junior riders with aspirations of succeeding in the senior ranks.
“It’s our premier development series for all of our junior riders. It’s where they start learning about track craft, racing and tactics,” he said.
The initiative, now in its sixth year, was having a considerable impact on a national scale.
“Southland has won the overall shield at the past two national championships and there’s a whole swag of really dominant juniors who have contributed to that success,” Beadle said.
Friday night’s final session, which starts at 6pm, will feature a time trial, a points or scratch race and a derby on the track before concluding with a formal prize-giving.
The Baxter and Neilson Scholarship, which comprises equipment, support and mentoring, will be awarded by Ray and Trish Galt, of Baxter and Neilson, to both the under-17 men’s and women’s winners.
Despite being unable to compete due to Oceania Championship commitments in Australia, Tom Beadle has already established an unassailable lead in the under-17 men’s division and received his scholarship early to assist with racing at the prestigious international fixture.
In the under-17 women’s ranks, Kate Dunlevey will be intent on holding off Jennifer Muhl, with just four points separating the talented duo.
Michael Cullen remains unbeaten to date in the under-15 men’s contest, while Sophie McMurdo has also impressed in the corresponding women’s section.
With 12 points clear of her nearest rival, Madeleine Gough has the under-13 girls’ title in the bag, but the under-13 boys’ will be hotly-contested with a mere four points separating Hamish Beadle and Joshua Carpenter.
“Those two have been battling all year long and have only been split by 1/1000th of a second at times,” Beadle said.
“We’ve had some fantastic racing with really close finishes and I’m sure the final event will continue that trend.”
For the full Baxter and Neilson Series Points Table click here.