What was a first for PNBHS cycling, the team captain Luuk van Wagtendonk walked away with the Schools Cycling Trophy at the end of the two day event. “I would have to classify this as our most successful champs thus far”, said Howard Pinder. Out of 15 possible medals on offer PNBHS collected five of them. To have medallist in most of the grades is a significant achievement and testament to the hard work put in by all the Manawatu based riders he added. Some might see this as a sign that the balance of power has shifted south from the strangle hold that Auckland schools have traditionally had on the event over recent years but those in the know suggest this is only just the precursor of better things to come from Manawatu riders.
The catalyst for optimism started with Saturdays time trial but it grew even stronger when Campbell Stewart (PNINS) was able to secure 2nd place in the Year 7/8 boys’ road race in a sprint finish on Sunday. Carlos Lopez-Lozano (PNBHS) was the surprise winner in the U14 road race when he turned on the after burners to clear the sprinting peloton and win comfortably. Chris Denholm (PNBHS) was placed fourth in the same race. Josh Kendall (PNBHS) road a very smart ride to secure a third place in the U15 boys and following behind him in 7th place was Connell Leahy (PNBHS). While the PNBHS riders did plenty of work up the front in the U16 boys’ race, their attacks were quickly reeled in. Unfortunately there were no PNBHS riders right up front when it counted to contest the sprint so most finished in the bunch. Mark Findlay’s (PNBHS) good form has continued after he secured second place in the fast finishing U17 race. He was lucky not to go down in the dodgy sprint to the line after he was clipped by another rider. In the same race Matthew Elliot (PNBHS) was unlucky not to medal for third when he was rolled close to the line by the pursuing rider. Not disappointed by the result, Elliot suggested he didn’t quite have the legs to hold his position but was nonetheless buoyed by the closeness of the result.
Not to be outdone, Elizabeth Stannard (PNGHS) took 2nd place in the girls U15 race while Kate Stewart’s (PNGHS) efforts were rewarded in the U16 girl’s race when she took 1st place. Her placing will give her some confidence only days before she departs for Australia with an NZ U17 squad. According to Denise Brown, there are a number of other girls right on the cusp but it was not to be their day.
A large field of 84 riders lined up for the boy’s U20 race in which PNBHS has entered 12 riders. Had the TAB established a totaliser at the event, they would have surely backed the two Pure Black riders of Scott Creighton (Hamilton BHS) and Hayden McCormick (St John’s College) as odds on favourites when the race started. Not to disappoint, they were true to predictions and they opened up a sizeable lead of the chasing peloton 10km into the race. Throwing caution to the wind and chancing his arm, Jaycob Humphreys (PNBHS) chose to give chase to the two in the breakaway with 6km to go. Caught in no man’s land between the leading two riders and the peloton, Jaycob was eventually swallowed up by the chasing bunch but it was still not enough to catch the eventual winner Scott Creighton who out-sprinted his opponent. Angus Finlay (PNBHS) was however quick enough in the sprint to claim third place with the bulk of the BHS riders finishing behind him in the main bunch. It must be said that Jaycob’s attempt to catch the leaders was a gutsy effort on his part.