The U19 New Zealand team, led by coaches Wayne Girdlestone, Matt Shallcrass and Katri Laike competed against Australiaís top U19 riders at the weekend.
The first day of competition saw Georgia Catterick ride to 4th place in the womenís time trial in chilly conditions. The race was delayed by half an hour due to fog on the course, which limited visibility to just 20 metres.
The delayed start saw the boys time trial occur in much improved conditions. The boys laid down impressive times in a field of 66 riders, enough to make the Australian boys sit up and take notice going into the road race on the second day of competition.
With the road race course consisting of nearly 600 metres of climbing, confidence was high.
The girls again had a smaller field of 15, which was loaded with talent, and made for an extremely fast and exciting race. New Zealand had four riders out in the front bunch going into the last climb of the day, and a good result seemed likely, before a crash took out team captain Georgia Vessey and rider Hannah Gumbley.
Both girls recovered quickly and started to chase the lead bunch, but were unable to catch them, leaving it up to Lydia Rippon and Georgia Catterick to contend for the finish.
The boys lined up to gusty winds and the ever ominous presence of dark rain clouds for their road race, with a large field of 76 riders. Three of the New Zealand riders were taken out by injury and mechanicals, and overall only half the field completed the brutal race.
The last day of competition focussed on the criterium, with the boys racing first. Due to the large field, officials ran two heats with the top 25 riders qualifying for the final race.
All five New Zealand contenders made it through to the final, where racing was very fast and more often than not single file. John Newman-Watt decided to stretch the field in a couple of particularly difficult areas of the course and in doing so pushed more than 20 riders past their limits. This opened a prime opportunity for Joel Yates to jump out with another rider.
Newman-Watt, Ryan Christensen and Nate Levin all rode smartly and ensured the pace of the bunch was slow enough to allow for Joel to get a good gap on the peloton. Towards the end of the race there was a crash, disrupting the race just enough that Yates and his breakaway companion stayed clear of the bunch. Yates finished second thanks to his impressive riding and the teamwork from his compatriots.
In the girls criterium the New Zealand team were unable to disrupt the race, leading to a sprint finish. With a lap to go Georgia Vessey and Lydia Rippon went to the front, clearing the way for nominated sprinters were Phoebe Treseder and Hannah Gumbley. Treseder was blocked by an Australian rider, leaving the sprint to Gumbley, who up against junior world track representatives sprinted to 5th.
The New Zealand team should be extremely proud of their achievements. Cycling is a tough sport and adversity occurs more than success - all riders were professional and accepted the good with bad and continued to work hard as a team. Now itís back to New Zealand to regroup and focus on the next challenge!
Selected New Zealand U19 Team:
New Zealand Team Results Ė Womenís Time Trial
Georgia Catterick Ė 4th
Georgia Vessey - 9th
Hannah Gumbley - 12th
Lydia Rippon - 13th
Phoebe Treseder - 14th
Menís Time Trial:
Joel Yates - 19th
Ryan Christensen - 29th
Nick Reddish - 31st
John Newman Watt - 34th
Nate Levine - 61st
Womenís Road Race:
Lydia Rippon 4th
Georgia Catterick 5th
Georgia Vessey 7th
Hannah Gumbley 9th
Phoebe Treseder 13th
Menís Road Race:
Ryan Christensen 20th
Nick Reddish 27th