05/10/2012 - Torrential rain and driving wind could not stop a gripping first day at the 29th edition of Cycling Southland's Yunca Junior Tour of Southland today.
After a delayed start by 15 minutes, the record field of Australasia's best junior road cyclists took to Teretonga Raceway to contest an Individual Time Trial and afternoon kermesse races across the eight seperate age categories.
The Under 13s had to brave the worst of the weather but it didn't stop Britney Kerr from Nelson stamping her class on the event taking a 31 second win over Madeleine Gough with Ella Blakely in third.
In the boys, Cycling Southland's Hamish Keast grabbed the first yellow jersey with a 10 second victory, recording a time of 4 minutes 20 for the 2.6km distance. Bailey Ford (Cycling Nelson) was just 10 seconds adrift with Jared Pidcock (Pegasus) in third a further 10 seconds back.
The Under 15 girls time trial was a closely contested affair with Tori Saunders from The Racing Kangaroos taking a narrow three second lead in to the afternoon racing over Phoebe McCaughen (Pegasus) and Beth Rees (Wagga Wagga) in third, eight seconds from the lead.
Campbell Stewart of Bike Manawatu made an early statement in the Under 15 Boys with a blistering time of 3:34 to go in to the yellow jersey with an eight second buffer from team-mate Chris Denholm and Joshua Smith (Pegasus).
The Under 17 girls appears to be a preview of what will be an extremely close competition with 11 riders finishing within 10 seconds of each other. Ultimately Pegasus' Holly Edmondston claimed the win by three seconds from clubmate Charlotte Hand and Hamilton's Madison Farrant.
The top two Under 17 boys could only be seperated by hundredths of seconds with Daniel Fitter from Sunshine Coast Cycling taking the narrowest of victories from James Thompson (Brisbane Cycling Racing Institute) and Jack Edwards (Penrith Cycling) just three seconds back in third.
Junior World Track representative Cassie Cameron from Wanganui carried her pursuiting form in to today's racing with a six second win over Maddi Campbell (Pegasus) and Georgia Timpany (Cycling Southland).
While the track legs held fellow Worlds squad members and Subway Pro Cycling's Dylan Kennett and Tayla Harrison in good stead. Kennett completed his lap in just 3:17 to take a six second lead over Harrison with Southland's Josh Haggerty making a fine start to record the same time as Harrison.
The afternoon kermesse saw some great racing including a number of sprint finishes and one impressive breakaway solo victory.
Corbin Strong (Cycling Southland) showed a clean set of heels down the final straight to take out the U13 race from the yellow jersey-wearer Hamish Keast while Britney Kerr made sure her yellow wasn't going anywhere, dominating the U13 girls to win by just under a minute.
The Under 15 girls featured a double act from Jessie and Tori Saunders with the former taking a narrow sprint over Tori with Natasha Dickison of Pegasus winning the bunch sprint for third 12 seconds later. The Under 15 boys proved to be a craking finish with the field spread eight wide as they descended on the finish line. In the end Campbell Stewart's speed carried him to an impressive double over the opening two stages giving him a 14 second overall lead heading in to day 2. Nicholas Edwards (Penrith) got up for second with Josh Carpenter (Cycling Southland) snatching third to move into fourth position on GC.
It was a Pegasus one-two in the Under 17 girls with track teammates Olivia Podmore and Holly Edmondston taking line honours. Podmore outsprinter her clubmate for the stage win which also brought her up to second position overall, trailing Edmondston by 5 seconds. The Under 17 boys saw a 30-strong bunch finish with Regan Gough (Cycling CHB) taking the win by half a bike length from the Tour leader Danial Fitter and Jack Edwards. Just five seconds seperates the top four riders on general classification with Fitter wearing yellow in to tomorrow's second day.
The Under 19 women's race came down to the battle of two Alices. In the end Alice Hay (Pegasus) was able to get to the line just ahead of Alice Riddell (Marsden Wheelers) to claim the stage with the bunch arriving three seconds later. That means that Cassie Cameron retains the yellow jersey but her lead has been cut to just two seconds by Hay.
In what was possibly the most impressive performance of the day, Junior World track representative Liam Aitcheson (Central Otago-Wakatipu) soloed to a hugely impressive victory, holding a fast finishing bunch at bay to take the stage by 15 seconds from Dylan Kennett with Chad Elliston leading the bunch home a second later.
Aitcheson got himself out to a lead of 30 seconds three laps from home, but try as they might, the bunch wasn't able to make any impression until it was too late.
It was enough to jump Aitcheson in to the Tour leaders jersey by six seconds over Kennett with Haggerty and Harrison 17 seconds from the lead.
Racing continues with two road stages at Te Tipua on Saturday before concluding on Sunday.