Cyclists out to make mark Riders expecting tough start

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A group of North Otago cyclists is keen to make an impression at this year’s Tour of Southland, which gets under way in Invercargill on October 30.
Tim Rush, Kris Rush, David Rush, Jesse Young and Waimate’s Dylan Kennett are all competing in the prestigious event, which starts with a short 4.2km team time trial at Queens Park before the tour proper begins.
Riders will have to be at their peak to challenge for the yellow jersey across the race’s seven stages around Southland, which cover a combined 847km.
In the longest stage, the first, riders will guts it out over 170km, from Invercargill’s velodrome to Lumsden.
Jesse Young, riding for the Adair Craik Accounting team, will be riding in the Tour of Southland for the first time.
He said he was he was eager for the challenge that came with the tour.
‘‘I’m looking forward to just the experience, really, and the atmosphere. It’ll be a great experience.’’
To prepare for the tour, Young has been putting in plenty of hours on the bike.
‘‘My preparation’s been pretty good. It’s been pretty hard. But, I feel like I’ll have to wait and see what happens. I might be doing sort of 20 hours of training a week, up around 150km.
‘‘I don’t know what I’m in for, so I’ll take it as it comes and hopefully become a better rider.’’
Kennett, who raced in both the team pursuit and omnium at the Rio Olympics, is riding the tour as part of his endurance training and will lead the Adair Craik Accounting team, which also includes Kris Rush.
Kennett said he was keen to act as a mentor of sorts to his predominantly younger team­mates.
‘‘The team consists of mainly younger riders, many of whom will be riding the tour for the first time.I really want to pass on what I’ve learned over the past six years and enjoy the camaraderie during the tour.’’
Meanwhile, Tim Rush hopes to build on his elite men’s lead in the fifth round of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series in Methven on Saturday.
Rush expected racing to be ‘‘hard and fast’’ from the start of the 93km round, which includes a climb in the Rakaia Gorge only 10km into the race.
‘‘The first climb looks nasty and could split the field,’’ Rush said.
‘‘With the race being a bit shorter, it’s going to be fast and hard from the start. So I expect some aggressive racing with splits occurring early, so we’ll have to be on our game as a team.’’