Ethan Batt of WPC South – Joyride Apparel came away from the SBS Bank Tour of Southland with much to smile about. The team managed to juggle GC ambitions with Batt’s dominance in the king of the mountains classification and him riding away with the best young rider jersey.
Most would be happy being part of the successful yellow jersey campaign that goes into an SBS Tour of Southland. Ethan Batt was part of that for teammate Michael Vink. In fact hearing Ethan talk about his Southland experience it’s almost like he stumbled into a week of personal dominance by accident!
“It’s something that I wasn’t really expecting,” Ethan said afterwards. “But it’s really good to hold the [KOM] jersey the whole week. It was nice!”
Heading into the week the team were one of the big hitter outfits to watch with Michael Vink looking to finally take the yellow jersey to the finish, and former champion Brad Evans going into the race alongside him. From the first road stage though Ethan Batt went about carving his name and stamping his impression into this year’s race.
At the end of the road to Lumsden, where Matt Zenovich came away with the stage honours, Ethan Batt stepped onto the podium to claim the red and white jersey as leader of the king of the mountains classification by 3 points from the stage winner. The young rider classification was not quite as plain sailing as the KOM pursuit, though, as Connor Brown fought his way into the pink jersey ahead of Batt by 58 seconds.
While Batt continued to notch up points on day 2, the deficit between himself and Brown in the young rider classification climbed ever so slightly and grew again on day 3 to Coronet Peak. But that all changed on the road to Bluff Hill, as Batt finished fifth on the stage, 1.30mins behind James Piccoli; moving Batt from 4th in the young rider classification to first at over 9 minutes ahead of his nearest challenger. It was an advantage Batt was never going to relinquish.
By the end of this year’s Tour Batt’s lead in the young rider classification topped out at 1 second short of 10 minutes, while his mountains classification lead was double that of second placed Zenovich, 48 points for Batt to 24.
“It’s kinda something that just happened,” Ethan explained. “We just focussed on GC, if I got the points I got the points, if I didn’t I didn’t. We made it work and I got the jersey.”
To have won two classifications at one of New Zealand’s two biggest stage races is an achievement that carries a lot of weight for Batt. “It’s pretty big because Southland’s quite a hard race and there’s always a lot of big names here, and to get two jerseys in the same year is pretty special.”