The New Zealand under-19 men’s cycling team came through their first European test with flying colours, headed by a sixth placing overall for Waikato-based rider Reuben Thompson in the opening race in France.
The New Zealand under-19 cycling team are taking on the challenge of a European campaign, competing in two stage races and three one-day races. It is the first time that the national under-19 men’s team has ventured to Europe, and is the brainchild of Prutton, a well-known Christchurch cyclist who has been a full-time endurance sport coach for the past 10 years and is now the Cycling New Zealand under-19 road coach. The Tour is a strongly contested race for leading junior riders, with past winners including the likes of Mathieu van der Poel.
Cambridge-based Reuben Thompson, formerly from Queenstown, finished third in the individual time trial on stage three of the UCI Ain Bugey Valromey Tour in France. Thompson then finished second in a tough final day of the four-stage UCI Ain Bugey Valromey Tour in France, out-sprinting the peloton in the 107km stage comprising several category one climbs.
A small group went away with Germany’s Georg Steinhauser the only rider to remain clear, winning the stage to also claim the overall honours.
Thompson, a former triathlete from Queenstown, was second at 2:19 behind the solo winner, and heading the remnants of the peloton to claim sixth place overall on general classification, only 22 seconds off the podium.
Ari Scott from Nelson was sixth in the final stage, with teammates Barnaby Clegg-Shaw (Auckland), Drew Christensen (Palmerston North) and Xander White (Cambridge) doing the heavy lifting in support of Thompson.
New Zealand coach Marc Prutton was delighted with the team’s efforts after arriving just a few days before the start of the Tour.
“The pinnacle of road cycling is in Europe and this tour has already proven to be a fantastic experience for them travelling and living in a foreign cycling environment and experiencing racing against some incredibly strong competition,” Prutton said.
The team will now contest four one-day races in France before completing the three-week campaign with the two-stage Tour of Trambouze, with past winners including World Tour stars Thibaut Pinot, Romain Bardet and Nicholas Roche.