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Individual rider Geoff Williamson stormed home first with the Christchurch Boys High School team on his wheel on the South Islands stage six of Tour of New Zealand from Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura today.
Williamson completed the 126 kilometre stage in three hours twenty six minutes and 47 seconds to build on his dominant lead in the South Island’s individual solo rider standings.
Third placed individual Juarez Carvalho managed to stay with Williamson to close the gap on second placed Simon Yarrell to 12 minutes. Williamson is 22 minutes ahead of Yarrell with only tomorrow’s 65 kilometre Blenheim to Picton stage and Saturday’s Wellington criterium to go.
Yarrell, one of the tour’s organisers, admitted it would take some very special to haul in Williamson now. “He’s been going very well and to stay with the young high school guys today showed just how strong he is. I can’t see us closing the gap on him by much.”
The Christchurch Boys High School team of professional mountain biker Anton Cooper and competitive cyclists Daniel Whitehouse, Olly Marshall, Max Jones and Harry Buttle have been riding at the front of each stage and showed no signs of getting letting up on today’s tough stage that included a number of climbs.
Christchurch Boys High has taken 17 hours and 16 minutes to complete the tour’s six stages. Crombie and Price on Tour are 37 minutes behind the school team and Wensleys Cycles from Invercargill lie third, 21 minutes further back.
In the North Island the Air Force Ohakea Corporate team, riding to celebrate 75 years of the RNZAF, continues to lead the team’s competition in similar dominating fashion to Christchurch Boys High and the leading North Island solo rider is Japan based New Zealander Dan Underwood who says the tour is a long winded way of visiting his home town Wellington.
Underwood leads Roger Whitefield by 16 minutes and the Air Force team is 31 minutes ahead of The Smokin Arrows North Island team with Powered by Stroopies 31 minutes further back in third. Tomorrows 74 kilometre North Island stage starts in Pahiatu and finishes in Masterton
Yarrell stresses the times are not the focus for most doing the unique event that started simultaneously at Stirling Point near Bluff and Cape Reinga on Saturday and ends with a criterium around Parliament in Wellington on Saturday.
“Most are doing this just for the challenge,” he said. “It’s a real celebration of cycling in New Zealand and a real family atmosphere has developed. The international riders are just being blown away by the scenery and riding terrain and are already planning to come back next year and bring more riders with them.”
• For tour results see http://www.tourofnewzealand.co.nz/results.php