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Kiwi Team Shines in Sun Tour
7 Jan, 2013

Christchurch cyclist Josh Atkins led the New Zealand team, finishing third in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour that finished near Melbourne last night.
 
The 20 year old completed Australias oldest stage race 1min 18sec down on overall winner Calvin Watson (Victoria Institute) on general classification, third in the under-23 classification, sixth in the sprint jersey points and ninth in the King of the Mountains.
 
Hopes of overall victory were dashed on the final 300m ascent of Arthur's Seat on the Mornington Peninsula, where the Victoria Institute team attacked powerfully to drop both Atkins and Australian Aaron Donnelly (Genesys Wealth Advisers) who were the two challengers for major honours.
 
While Nathan Earle (Genesys) won the stage, the 20 year old Watson finish close behind to take overall honours and become the youngest winner of the race.
 
It proved a strong performance from Atkins, the 2011 Tour of Southland winner, who will return with the rest of the BikeNZ team for this weekendss Calder Stewart elite road championships in Christchurch.
 
Atkins, who has ridden for the Livestrong Bontrager under-23 squad last year, was fourth in the nationals last year. His performances this week will no doubt give him confidence for this weekend, before he heads away to join the new development team for the Omega Pharma Quickstep professional squad in Europe.
 
Oram, who returns to the Livestrong Bontrager team in the USA this year, was the best of the New Zealand team in the final 93km evening stage along the Mornington Peninsula with a double ascent of Arthur's Seat. He was eighth just 20 seconds down on the winner to finish ninth overall two minutes behind the yellow Jersey.
 
The national team finished sixth overall in a tour dominated by younger riders.
 
A number of other New Zealand riders took part as a shakedown for the national championships with the national team also comprising Greg Henderson, Westley Gough, Tom Scully and Mike Northey, with other Kiwis including Joseph Cooper, Sam Horgan, Rico Rogers, Mathew Marshall and Julian Dean.
 
Dean will now set himself for his final ride as a professional at the national championships, bringing down the curtain on 17 years as a professional.
 
Results:
 
Final stage: Nathan Earle (GEN) 2:18.42, 1; Dan McConnell (SZB) at 7 seconds, 2; Mark OBrien (SAS) at 9s, 3. Also New Zealand team: James Oram at 20s, 8; Josh Atkins at 2:10. 40; Mike Northey at 2:38, 46; Greg Henderson at 4:00, 52; Westley Gough at 9:00, 73; Tom Scully at 9:04, 74.
 
General classification: Calvin Watson (VIS) 10:16.55, 1; Aaron Donnelly (GEN) at 37s, 2; Atkins at 1:18, 3. Also NZ team: Oram at 2:03, 9; Northey at 10:21, 39; Scully at 14:37, 47; Henderson at 19:38, 52; Gough at 21:06, 56.
 
Under 23: Watson 1, Donnelly 2, Atkins 3. Also Oram 5.

Click to enlarge...
NZ star for the future Josh Atkins

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