With all of the uncertainty in 2020, riders of Mount Aspiring College were looking forward to Yunca, a reward for all of the cancelations and postponements of other events throughout the year. “We had all been training”, week in week out, to get into fighting shape for the big weekend – riding five to eight times a week. We all had separate goals but they all needed a big effort to pull off.
The ”goal” during the first week of the holidays was simply to stay off your legs and conserve energy, energy that will be spat out over the course of a long grueling weekend. We arrived for a group recon in sunny Wyndham in the mid-afternoon spinning the 250km of car journey out of our legs, we then hopped off our bikes and took a 25 minute drive to the velodrome to pick up our race packs. As the sun set on Invercargill nerves started to fill riders heads and rice started to fill their stomachs.
Day One: Wyndham Road Races
The day consisted of two tough courses carrying our riders through the rolling hills of Southland. The U15 boys race was 36km long and the four representatives of MAC were well prepared. With coach Alex providing them with a quality warm up. During the stage Hugo Sinclair took 1st in the sprint classification putting him into the green jersey, as the race progressed it started to split apart and as Noah Hollamby one of the big favourites from Timaru placed an attack to gain time on “GC” (General Classification) which Carter Guichard followed. The two worked together until the KOM (King Of the Mountains) sprint where Carter took the points. The two race leaders finished four minutes ahead of the bunch with Noah Hollamby taking the win closely followed by Wanaka’s Carter Guichard. In the following bunch Zavier Taylor took 6th place and Hugo 7th. Coming in only a few minutes behind was Max good in 13th who did exceptionally well for this only being his second race.
In the U17 event Muireen Green came in 7th (in the female category) and Mckay Watson came in 11th (in the male category) after both sticking near the bunch for the whole race.
As things stood the team had two riders in the jersey classifications and one rider 2nd on GC. The team had discussed in the car on how they could retain the green jersey, this involved the team placing a high pace on the front and then Hugo would attack and time trial 1km to the sprint. The team put in a stellar effort but unfortunately Hugo was caught with about 20 meters to go but he still collected two points and was tied in first for the jersey classification. Soon after the turnaround was a 1km long hill with some KOM points at the top, for the second time that day Noah Hollamby attacked with only Carter Guichard being able to follow. Carter took four more points at the top, securing the polkadot jersey. Noah Hollamby then placed an attack on Carter taking 30 seconds into him but he still managed to take second place on the stage.
In the U17 event Muireen Green came in 4th (in the female category) and Mckay Watson came in 3rd (in the male category) with an awesome move with three other riders.
Day 2 Bluff
Stage three saw the riders go around a technical course around the docks of bluff, with howling winds this wasn’t going to be an easy morning. The U15 boys race had a sprint at lap 3 where Hugo placed an attack, unfortunately the wind was just too strong to stay away solo and the peloton heaved him back in. The race then split after the sprint lap and Carter found himself in the front group, after a few good hard laps of racing he sprinted to his first age group victory ever, Zavier and Hugo securing 8th and 9th in the second group with Max putting in a big effort to pull off 14th place.
In the U17 event Muireen Green came in 3th (her first podium in the female category) an amazing sprint to the podium, and Mckay Watson came in 13th (in the male category).
This stage forced the riders up the formidable Bluff hill in a short but wildly intense time trial, and for many of the riders was the main target at the event. Zavier was the first of the wanaka riders to take on this hill and put all he had into the pedals of his bike, he placed 3rd in this stage, Max was next up and managed to claw onto 14th place, contender to take the stage Carter was on a roll and was trying to get a win streak but had to walk away with silver, Hugo decided to conserve energy and didn’t push at all.
In the U17 event Muireen Green came in 5th (in the female category) and Mckay Watson came in 13th (in the male category) after both smashing it.
Day 3 Criterium and Road Race
The racers drove to the Invercargill CBD dreading the sideways rain that stormy Invercargill provided. The U15 boys had a great race with Hugo putting in 2 or 3 efforts off the front in an attempt to fight for more green jersey points and managing to get 8th, while Zavier (who snuck in at 9th) and Max (14th) stuck in the group, but the main performance of the morning was Carter as he slid another win under his belt, sprinting out of the last corner in first position all the way to the finish line, the team was ecstatic at their efforts for this stage win, and as Carter said after the race was over “it wasn’t just me, it was a team effort”.
In the U17 event Muireen Green came in 5th (in the female category) and Mckay Watson came in 2nd grabbing another podium in the male category.
Another rainy stage saw surface flooding and in parts streams across the roads of southland, the U15 boys had a swift start, overtaking the U17 men 7km into the final stage. Carter stuck at the front and was in a group of three until the finish where he won the KOM and nabbed 2nd place in the stage and GC, Hugo got 6 riders working and managed to get 7th while Zavier (in the same group) attacked on the penultimate hill to secure 5th on GC and 6th in the stage, Max rode solo and got 14th in the stage.
In the U17 event Muireen Green came in 5th and took the Sprint Ace jersey (in the female category) and Mckay Watson came in 13th (in the male category) after both smashing it.
Written by Hugo Sinclair with help from Carter Guichard