In a race that went down
to the wire, pro rider Michael Vink showed his class to win
the 250km, five-stage Tour de Taieri, from a star-studded
field in near perfect conditions yesterday afternoon.
Vink was a deserving winner, from a classy field of nearly 30
others, including a host of professional and up-and-coming
junior riders. Vink rode strongly throughout every stage,
including the second, in which he and local strongman Mark
Spessot made the big move of the tour, blowing the field
apart in a gruelling crosswind section. This move effectively
left seven riders in contention for the overall honours.
Brad Evans, James McCoy and Tim Rush, made an effort to steal
the show on the final stage, and did take line honours, but
Vink showed a cool head and kept the breakaway from gaining
enough time to threaten his overall lead.
In the end Vink won, 5sec ahead of Dan Barry and 24sec ahead
of Brad Evans.
With sunny and calm conditions for most of the five stages,
the racing was fast and close in almost all of the 10
categories contested among 130 riders. Only a series of
crashes, including a high speed pile-up (which included
Evans) in category one, marred the event.
In category 2, Stu Crooks hit the lead after an impressive
time trial, and then showed powerful sprinting to increase
his overall margin as the tour went on. Pre-race favourite
Chris Harvey had to settle for second, ahead of Southland
sprint master Jerrard Stock, who led the race early on, after
winning the stage one and two.
Patrick Jones rode a splendid race, winning the under-19
title, and by taking fifth place overall, he signalled he
could be a force to reckoned with in the senior ranks in
The under-17 boys was won by Liam Aitkenson, by the slimmest
of margins from Joshua Haggerty. Lachie McGregor continued
his run of form, taking the under-15 title comfortably.
The women's race was closely fought, with Kylie Young
eventually winning from speedster Kat Jones by 24sec.
Corrinne Smit rode strongly for third and made several solo
breakaway attempts in the final two stages.
Kaylee Murdoch won the under-19 women's title, from Julia
Gorninsky and Mountain biking convert Mary Gray. Robin
Packer-Gray dominated the under-17 women's field. First
timers, a new category, saw Corbin Strong turn on impressive
speed to win from Roman Fergusson.