The rapidly growing depth and spread of talent in cycling was in view on the second and third days of the Cycling New Zealand Schools Road National Championships in Manawatu.
Eleven of the 13 titles in yesterday’s road races went to riders from different schools around a challenging circuit in Colyton near Feilding, made more challenging with strong winds.
Nearly 600 riders from 84 schools are taking part in the 52nd annual schools championship, staged over three days with the team time trials on day one, road race on day two and points race on day 3.
The standout school on day two was Cambridge High School with three titles to Mackenzie Barnett in the under 14 girls, Jack Carswell in the under 17 boys and Maddi Douglas in the under-20 girls.
While there were plenty of attacks in the strong crosswinds, many of the titles were decided with fierce sprint finishes including both senior under-20 races.
Double junior world track champion Laurence Pithie (Christchurch Boys) claimed the under-20 honours after a four-way sprint finish while Douglas claimed the under-20 girls’ winners after a five-way sprint.
The quality of the talent was highlighted in the senior boys race with Pithie edging out Xander White (Cambridge High), recently competing in Europe with the under-19 national team, and Kiaan Watts (Hamilton Boys), who won the Madison track gold medal with Pithie in Germany last month.
It was a double for Pithie who was part of the winning Christchurch Boys effort in the team time trial on the first day.
“Yesterday’s time trial was a really tough race especially on the new course. We were stoked to take that home and to win again today is pretty cool,” said Pithie.
“With the crosswinds early on there were a lot of breaks and I was just trying to cover them and get into a break myself. Into the final lap I attacked with Xander (White) riding with me. We caught the break and a few of them came across including Kiaan (Watts) and it came down to a final sprint.”
The under-20 girls were in unchartered territory with an increase to three laps (54kms) to match the boys which played into the hands of the eventual winner Maddi Douglas (Cambridge High School).
“It worked out well. I like the longer road races so the increase to three laps played into a strength of mine,” said Douglas, who won in Canterbury last year.
Douglas made the early move and held on in the five-way sprint finish ahead of last year’s under-17 podium placegetter Lara Hopkinson (Baradene) and the 2018 runner-up Jorja Swain (Whangarei High School).
“The first lap was brutal and with so many good riders it was hard to know who to cover. After that first lap I was shattered but after that it eased up and we rode strongly together,” said Douglas.
“This is my last year so it’s pretty special to win the title and now I am looking forward to the points race tomorrow which should be fun.”
More definitive was under-17 boys winner Jack Carswell (Cambridge High) who continued his outstanding form following wins in a road racing stint in Europe and his recent world junior record on the track in the individual pursuit.
“I had a lot of good preparation building up for Oceania Championship in two weeks so this is a step towards that,” said Carswell.
“I got hyped up for the team time trial but we got beaten by 0.3 seconds yesterday so I came back with a bit of vengeance today.
“I went up a long drag with two other riders about 100m clear and I managed to ride them off my wheel and in these strong winds I thought it was safer out in front than being in the bunch,” he said after riding clear to win by two minutes.
“There was a lot of encouragement and awesome support from all the volunteers and parents.”
The under-17 girls honours went to Takapuna Grammar’s Lucy Buckeridge, a member of the Barfoot & Thompson Performance Hub development programme, while Timaru’s Jaxson Whyte (Roncalli College), a South Island champion on the road and national age winner on the track, held off challenges in a bunch sprint to win the under-16 boys.
The younger grades saw titles and podium placings well spread with riders representing as far north as Whangarei and as far south as Timaru proving that the future of schools cycling is strong with talent rising from across the country.
Day 2 Results, Road Race:
Females, Under 13, 18km: Caoilinn Gray (Cambridge Middle School) 35:40, 1; Millie Donald (Kenakena School) same time, 2; Piper Russell (Cambridge MS) st, 3.
Under 14, 18km: Mackenzie Barnett (Cambridge HS) 37:15, 1; Sophia Hyland (Baradene College) same time, 2; Emily Toomey (Bluestone School) st, 3.
Under 15, 18km: Ruby Spring (Saint Kentigern) 31:52, 1; Seana Gray (Cambridge High School) same time, 2; Tegan Feringa (Epsom Girls Grammar) at 43s, 3.
Under 16, 36km: Bee Townsend (Epsom Girls) 1:03:30, 1; Lydia Stevens (Baradene) same time, 2; Ella Morton (Baradene) st, 3.
Under 17, 36km: Lucy Buckeridge (Takapuna Grammar) 1:03:16, 1; Mikaela Grant (Villa Maria) same time, 2; Queenie Mcelwee (Epsom Girls) st, 3.
Under 20, 54km: Maddi Douglas (Cambridge High) 1:34:57, 1; Lara Hopkinson (Baradene) same time, 2; Jorja Swain (Whangarei Girls) st, 3.
Males, Under 13, 18km: Jonny Barclay (Remuera Intermediate) 34:40, 1; Thomas Dolan (St Peters Auck) at 1:08, 2; Jamie Cantell-Roberts (Saint Kentigern) at 1:19, 3.
Under 14, 18km: Nate Boness (Auckland Grammar) 30:09, 1; Jack Whittall (Cambridge HS) same time, 2; Frankie Wright (St Peters Camb) at 1:06, 3.
Under 15, 18km: Hamish Banks (St Peters Camb) 31:04, 1; Maui Morrison (Cambridge HS) same time, 2; Nick Rush (Rolleston) st, 3.
Under 16, 36km, A Grade: Jaxson Whyte (Roncalli College) 58:03, 1; Lewis Bower (Westlake Boys) same time, 2; Oli Fisher (Kings College) st, 3. B Grade: Riley Wills (St Pauls Ham) 1:04:39, 1; William Morton (Auckland Grammar) at 1sec, 2; Toby Baird (St Peters Auck) same time, 3.
Under 17, 36km: Jack Carswell (Cambridge High) 54:56, 1; Michael Audeau (Christs College) at 2:00, 2; Jacob Spring (St Peters Camb) same time, 3.
Under 20, 54km: Laurence Pithie (Christchurch Boys) 1:19:49, 1; Xander White (Cambridge High) same time, 2; Kiaan Watts (Hamilton Boys) st, 3.
Road race champs return to form in points finale
The stars shone brightest in the tough conditions for the Points races on the third and final day of the Cycling New Zealand Schools Road National Championships.
Nine of the 12 titles today in the Points Races around the famed Manfeild motorsport circuit were claimed by the same riders who won the honours in their age groups in the individual road races on Sunday at nearby Colyton.
It proved a triple treat for the double junior track world champion Laurence Pithie from Christchurch Boys High School who has quickly picked up his form on the road since his brilliant efforts on the track in Germany last month.
Today there was more solid team work from his Christchurch Boys High teammates in the under-20 Points Race for Pithie to dominate the sprints with 12 points ahead of Watts and Jensen Foster (Saint Kentigern).
It was made doubly challenging as rain fell with the high winds for the boy’s race, which was reduced from 12 to seven laps.
“It was treacherous conditions so I went hard as I knew I could put some pressure on from the start,” said Pithie. “The Christchurch Boys High boys got around me towards the end and helped me bring it home.
“We started off the weekend taking home the gold in the team time trial which set-up the boys well and we were all in good spirits. And we had a couple of boys away in the break today – Griffin Spencer and Guy Yarrell – and it all played out well to bring it into a sprint on the final lap and I took it from there.”
At the other end of the spectrum was 13-year-old Ruby Spring from Saint Kentigern in Auckland, who also won the road race in a battle with Seana Gray (Cambridge High) in the under-15 road race on Sunday.
The pair shone out again in the Points race with Spring gaining the top honours with 15 points ahead of Gray with nine.
“I love cycling and loved this weekend,” said Spring. “My attitude was to just see what happened. Today we worked together in the winds. Our coach wants us to stay out of trouble and out of the wind and to do our best.
“We had three sprints today. I didn’t go quite as hard in the beginning but got there in the end. I want to continue in the sport. It’s a lot of fun to ride with the girls from other schools and the girls in my age group from my school.”
The other double winners included Caoilinn Gray (Cambridge Middle) in the under 13, Mackenzie Barnett (Cambridge High) in under 14, and Maddi Douglas (Cambridge High) in the under 20 for the girls. The repeat winners in the boys comprised Jonny Barclay (Remuera Intermediate) in under 13, Hamish Banks (St Peters Cambridge) in under 15, Timaru’s Jaxson Whyte (Roncalli College) in under 16, Jack Carswell (Cambridge High) in under 17 and Pithie.
The other winners today included Jack Whittall (Cambridge High) in the under 14, Ally Gothard (Epsom Girls) in the under 16 and Prudence Fowler (Diocesan) in the under-17, adding to her national school and national age titles on the road.
Day 3 Results, Points races:
Females, under 13: Caoilinn Gray (Cambridge Middle) 10 points, 1; Piper Russell (Cambridge Middle) 6, 2; Freya Holland (Baradene) 3, 3. Under 14: Mackenzie Barnett (Cambridge High) 12 points, 1; Esther Carr (Takapuna Grammar) 5, 2; Sophia Hyland (Baradene) 5, 3. Under 15: Ruby Spring (Saint Kentigern) 15 points, 1; Seana Gray (Cambridge High) 9, 2; Maia Barclay (Epsom Girls) 6, 3. Under 16: Ally Gothard (Epsom Girls) 15 points, 1; Arabella Tuck (Diocesan) 9, 2; Keisha Anderson (Cambridge High) 7, 3. Under 17: Prudence Fowler (Diocesan School) 18 points, 1; Jorja Clouth (Baradene) 11, 2; Ashleigh Gunn (Palmerston North Girls) 7, 3. Under 20: Maddi Douglas (Cambridge High) 14 points, 1; Charlotte Worley (Villa Maria) 10, 2; Jorja Swain (Whangarei Girls) 6, 3.
Males, under 13: Jonny Barclay (Remuera Intermediate) 10 points, 1; Thomas Dolan (St Peters Akld) 5 points, 2; Joshua Rowe (Cambridge Middle) 5, 3. Under 14: Jack Whittall (Cambridge High) 12 points, 1; Frankie Wright (St Peters Camb) 11, 2; Nate Boness (Auckland Grammar) 5, 3. Under 15: Hamish Banks (St Peters Camb) 15 points, 1; Maui Morrison (Cambridge High) 6, 2; Nick Rush (Rolleston) 6, 3. Under 16: Jaxson Whyte (Roncalli) 13 points, 1; August Elworthy (Takapuna Grammar) 8, 2; Jaxson Russell (Cambridge High) 6, 3. Under 17: Jack Carswell (Cambridge High) 14 points, 1; Jacob Rackham (Auckland Grammar) 8, 2; Cody Boness (Auckland Grammar) 5, 3. Under 20: Laurence Pithie (Christchurch Boys) 12 points, 1; Kiaan Watts (Hamilton Boys) 5, 2; Jensen Foster (Saint Kentigern) 5, 3.