Ideal conditions and a new training programme helped Invercargill rider Kate Wilson win Cycling Southland’s premier road race at the weekend.
Wilson headed off a strong sprint to the line from the limit bunch to win the 66-kilometre Stonewood Homes Gore to Invercargill on Saturday and the $500 first prize.
More than 50 riders from around the South Island took part in the country’s longest running club Classic cycle race, now in its 87th year.
Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton said the perfect conditions, including an unusual tail wind, made it difficult for the handicapped groups to come together but Wilson still had plenty to do in the final sprint home.
Fresh from a return to road racing after a potentially serious accident in January, Corbin Strong outsprinted Hamish Keast to claim the fastest time in 1 hour 41mins 2 seconds.
The course had to be re-routed by organisers because of unexpected roadworks near Brydone. An alternative was eventually found via the back road from Mataura to Wyndham.
Ant Leathart, fresh from a return from injury was second, with Peter Redpath third.
Kayne Borrie won the junior race, with brother Oliver in second and Jake Willis third and also fastest home.
Wilson was delighted with the win, which she attributed to improvements to her training since November.
“I’m doing a lot of sharp intensity stuff and a change in the training structure that’s really helped me through the last few months,” she said.
“It was a really good race. Everyone worked well together, rolling through the whole time. We went out quite strong from the start and finished quite strongly, so it was great.
Wilson will compete Vital Signs Tour de Lakes at Easter and then plans to compete in the Timaru tour in August.
“Then we’ll re-evaluate my plans for the future.”
Strong had a good week – named in the national junior track squad to compete at the world championships in Switzerland and a successful return to road racing after his accident.
“The bunch worked really well for the first half of the race and I think we were averaging close to 48kmh with a slight tail wind so it was really good.
“We got a couple of time checks which showed the tail wind was helping the front bunches as well.
“It was a good race and a good week to be back on the bike.”
His focus now turns to the elite series races in Hokitika and the road national championships, before returning to the track ahead of the junior world championships.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into racing and seeing where I’m at with five months to junior worlds which is a big aim for the year.”