The New Zealand team fought hard in the rain without tangible rewards for their efforts in the junior men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire.
The Vantage New Zealand junior men’s team rode prominently from the start of the race in Richmond, north Yorkshire for the first 100kms of the 148km race. The Kiwi riders – Finn Fisher-Black, Ari Scott, Reuben Thompson, Drew Christensen and Logan Currie – all pushed to the front group of the peloton in the grim, wet conditions and managed to avoid the crashes behind in the 118-strong field.
However, they were dropped along with most of the peloton when the speed ramped up significantly nearing the finishing circuits in Harrogate.
“The boys did quite well over the big climb and stayed in touch on the narrow roads.,” said director sportif, Craig Geater. “The pace went up, driven by the American and British squads, as the roads widened about 10kms out of Harrogate. A lot of riders who had ridden well over the climbs just could not hold on at that stage when the hammer went down, including our boys.
“It was quite tough conditions also and there were a lot of punctures with Finn getting a puncture that ended his race.”
Initially a break of five riders went clear on the finishing circuits until American Quinn Simmons, benefitting from his strong team efforts, went solo with 30kms remaining. He stayed away to win by 36 seconds from Italy’s Alessio Martinelli and 1:33 back to teammate Magnus Sheffield.
Waikato’s Drew Christensen was the best placed finisher of the New Zealand riders 9:18 behind the winner in 31st place, with Thompson in 36th at 12:21 and Currie 17:00 back in 67th while Scott and Fisher-Black were among the 46 riders who did not finish.
Attention tomorrow turns to Stella Nightingale and Ella Wyllie in the junior women over 86kms along with Ethan Batt, James Fouche and Paul Wright in the under-23 men over 187kms from Doncaster to Harrogate.
There has been a late change in the elite men’s team, who race on Sunday (local time), with Jumbo-Visma pro rider George Bennett withdrawing, and will be replaced by fellow World Tour rider Shane Archbold (Bora Hansgrohe) who is making the dash to Yorkshire from his base in Spain.
“George has told us that he is completely drained after the Vuelta and does not believe he is in any condition to be competitive here this weekend,” said Geater.
Junior Men 148kms: Quinn Simmons (USA) 3:38:04, 1; Alessio Martinelli (ITA) at 36sec, 2; Magnus Sheffield (USA) at 1:33, 3. Also NZers: Drew Christensen at 9:18, 31; Reuben Thompson at 12:21, 36; Logan Currie at 17:00, 67; Ari Scott, Finn Fisher-Black dnf.