The first event in Cycling Southland’s hectic October and November ended in beautiful sunshine yesterday at Mable Bush as 181 riders from all parts of New Zealand and Australia battled each other all the way to the final stage finish line in search of 2011 Yunca Junior Tour honours.
An event like the Yunca Tour can’t really be done justice in a column of this side. There are so many storylines on and off the bike during an event like this. It could be a resounding solo victory like Tom Vessey’s U19 stage win yesterday afternoon or a sprint finish with five riders spread across the line, all within split seconds of each other – like the Under 17 Girls finish yesterday.
It could be the fun and games the Tour officials get up to and the banter and camaraderie that is so apparent among the event volunteers. And it could be the unbelievable commitment by those same volunteers who are there hours after and hours before anything resembling a rider appears on the scene. Regardless of what catches your attention the most, you can’t help but be very proud of an event like the Yunca Tour.
A personal thanks to all of those who worked to make the 2011 version one of the very best. Sier Vermunt, Phil Culling, Shane Brazier and all the Tour committee and helpers – huge congratulations on what you delivered over the weekend.
Those story lines will continue this week as our attention quickly shifts to the ILT Velodrome for our ILT Track Carnival over three nights – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. These three nights will be action packed with over 200 riders registered to take part across the three nights.
Tuesday and Wednesday evenings will feature the National Elite Omnium Championships. This event alone contains enough stories to fill a week’s edition of the Southland Times. Who will take the first step by putting their name in lights and saying to the national selectors, “I am and person you want riding this event at the London Olympics next year.” All the country’s best endurance riders will be lining up against each other and even though many are great mates and have ridden alongside each other for years, when it comes to Olympic selections, mate-ship has to be put on hold for a couple of nights.
Hayden Roulston makes his return to the track for the first time since winning a silver medal in Beijing. How will he fare against World Championship medalist Shane Archbold, wily veterans Marc Ryan, Sam Bewley, Jesse Sergent or Wes Gough? How about the Southland contingent, led by Tom Scully and Cameron Karwowski? Like I said, so many story-lines. And when you thrown in our Trans Tasman Junior Challenge racing and then the Sprint supercars who turn up to ride Sunday, this column really can’t do it all justice. Racing starts at 6pm each night. We’ll see you at the ILT Velodrome this week, where you can see the stories for themselves.