Dylan Kennett from the SUBWAY® Pro Cycling team beat a strong field that included national champions James Williamson and Michael Vink to win the final round of the current elite Benchmark series on Saturday.
The 155 kilometre race held in north Canterbury was full of riders in final preparation for the Powernet Tour of Southland that starts on Sunday and further confirmed the promise of the 19 year old rider who won four medals at the UCI World Junior Championships on the track in Invercargill in August.
“I was very happy to win leading in Southland,” Kennett said. “I felt strong and was feeling good after saving energy in the bunch for the first half of the race. We had a race plan to get either myself or Oddy (SUBWAY® Pro Cycling team mate Paul Odlin) into the winning break.”
After several early breakaway attempts were caught Kennett managed to successfully join one that stuck that included Odlin, Dan Barry from the Benchmark Homes team, H & J Smith’s Cameron Karwowski and three of his teammates. After the group established a lead of one minute 20 seconds over the chasing peloton Odlin attacked taking only Karwowski with him.
“Once Oddy broke away with Cam and had about 15 seconds on us I worked at shaking the rest. I managed to get away and bridge the gap on Summerhill that made it two Subway riders verses Cam. Oddy pulled some massive turns and Cam pulled strongly too. Oddy told me to save energy and only take every second lap.”
As the three riders approached Cust Odlin attacked one final time establishing a small lead. Kennett then waited patiently and judged his winning move perfectly getting the jump on Karwowski as they hit Cust and then rode across the gap to join Odlin with only two kilometres left of racing.
“It was a great result for me and the team,” Kennett said. “Oddy was very good and set things up so I was in the best possible position to win.”
Kennett won in three hours 43 minutes and 21 seconds, crossing the line four seconds ahead of Odlin.
Karwowski finished third, 16 seconds behind Odlin with Robin Reid (Scotty Browns – Vision Systems) winning an important bunch sprint five seconds later that saw the Nelson based rider claim the overall series win over former double Olympian Chris Nicholson after the two riders were tied on points.
Women’s series leader Karen Fulton (Tasman Wheelers) won a bunch sprint beating Alice Hay (Benchmark Homes) and Maddi Campbell (OmegaTech), to claim the 117 kilometres women’s race and secure the overalls series win.
SUBWAY® Pro Cycling’s General Manager Hayden Godfrey said the focus was now on the Tour of Southland where Kennett will make his debut. Godfrey stressed it was important for the young rider to soak up as much of the experience of riding his first senior Southland Tour as possible but had no doubt he had the potential to turn a few heads should an opportunity present itself during racing.