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Manawatu Schools Cycling Competition has a bright future.

IMG_6541The inaugural Manawatu Schools Cycling Competition held in Ashhurst on 19 June was declared a complete success by the chief event coordinator, Matthijs van Wagtendonk. The purpose of the event was a combined initiative between Bike Manawatu and Sport Manawatu that sought to expose more school children to cycling and the response was overwhelming, he said. Over 100 experienced and novice riders from the regions schools participated in a 3km hill climb up Saddle Road, then took on a 10km individual time trial down Pohangina Valley Road. A challenging points race around the streets of Ashhurst concluded the event. With riders coming from as far as Wanganui, Ohau, and Kumeroa/Hopelans the competition has a bright future. We are looking to establish this as a premier event in the lower North Island schools cycling calendar, continued Matthijs with a glint in his eye.

From the response and support from parents and riders, events such as these are consistent with our vision to grow cycling in the region, said Bike Manawatu Chairperson, Paul van Velthooven. Paul, in an official capacity, was on hand to award prizes to riders. With four riders from the schools programme selected to represent NZ in Canberra next month, we have a great pool of talent in our region and I’m sure there’s lots of untapped potential just waiting to be introduced to cycling, he added. He went on to say  “What better way to do so than events such as these?”

IMG_6438The spectator friendly points race provided the best spectacle for supporters and parents. In the Year7/8, the boys and girls were combined. Robert Stannard dominated the race right from the very start. He led all the way increasing his lead on every lap. Grace Castle rode strongly and was the best female rider in this combined race. Showing her strength, she actually beat a number of male counterparts coming third overall in the actual race. Both these riders were to go on to take top placing in their grade overall having secured wins in the hill climb and time trial events.

In the U15 points race, Josh Kendall and Connell Leahy set the early pace and managed to break away early. When the pressure really came on Josh was unable to hang on. Connell, whose composed and experience from a second placing at the NZ U15 Road Nationals this year, came through and he secured a relatively easy win. Connell also went on to take the overall grade title by also taking out the time trial from Josh Kendall as his nearest rival.

However, the real race was amongst the girls riding in the same race that included front runners Elizabeth Stannard, Michaela Drummond and Britteny Baker. Michaela’s sheer strength and her recent success at NZ nationals saw her take the race. With an unassailable lead from her first placing in both time trial and hill climb, she was assured to take the overall title from her close friends.

The U17 & U19 girls’ race was combined in the interest of time. Kate Stewart, another NZ representative going to Canberra was too strong for the remaining field. She was able to ride away from the U19 riders and the other U17 competitors of Ruby Perry and Charlotte Brenkley. Like the others before her, Kate went on to take the top overall honours in her grade by also securing wins in the time trial and hill climb. The U19 paring of Kelsi Eccles and Katherine Young was a two horse race throughout with Kelsi taking top honours.

The U17 boys’ points race was dominated by three PNBHS riders and Vladimir Stewart from Wanganui High. With the late withdrawal of Mark Findlay, this provided an opportunity for others to shine. Surprising his parents and saving his effort for last, Kyle Davie managed to break clear and take the race quite convincing. Overall, George Roberts consistent performance across all three disciplines saw him take the grades honours from Kyle and Jordan Castle.

The U19 men’s points race provided the greatest interest given the classy field that lined up. After the first couple of laps it was going to be a lottery who might actually win. In the end a bunch of four riders including Jaycob Humphreys, Miguel Dib, Angus Findlay and Luuk van Wagtendonk were left to contest the sprints. However, good luck and fortune fell upon Jaycob Humphreys and he was too good for the field taking line honours. However, Miguel Dib’s overall performance placing 1st in the hill climb and 2nd in the time trial proved to his colleagues that he was the best rider overall across the three disciplines.

More often than not, those new to the sport never get mentioned but 13 year old Joel Yates from PNBHS was asked to talk about himself in an impromptu interview. As a relatively new rider to the Manawatu Schools Programme, he’s following in the steps of his role model father who has completed a number of Ironman events. Having come through the development programme at Intermediate Normal School, my ultimate goal is really to represent NZ in triathlon, that’s my real passion he said. PNBHS cycling is an opportunity for him to improve his cycling skills and gain much needed experience. While the highlight for Joel in 2011 has been making the Junior D team he is excited about competing at the Secondary Schools Event in Cambridge in July and representing BHS. Joel smiles and declares that next year I hope to make the Junior A squad.


Full results can be found by clicking on this link full results of 2011 Manawatu School Cycling Champs

Pictures – Kirsty Kaihau

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