Junior rider set to join the senior ranks

Dylan Kennett's cycling career is about to go into fast forward.

Despite the fact he's riding in the Junior Tour of Southland this weekend, the Waimate rider will graduate into the senior ranks over the next couple of weeks when he competes in his first Tour of Southland on the road and makes his debut as a senior rider on the track for New Zealand in the Glasgow round of the World Cup.

Kennett, who won three silver medals and a bronze at the junior world track championships in Invercargill, has almost recovered from injuries suffered racing the madison in Invercargill and is primed for the exciting schedule ahead.

A calf problem linked to the madison crash ruled him out of the junior race at the world road championships in Holland, but that's largely behind him.

"I'm getting close to full fitness again. The only issue I've had was last Monday, I went for a long ride and I did something to my hip. I've had to have a quiet week this week and it's only just come right, hopefully it stays right," Kennett said.

"It's looking good for the build up towards Southland."

Kennett and his Subway Pro Cycling team-mate Tayla Harrison will earn the rare distinction of having ridden in the junior and senior Tours of Southland in the same year.

While Kennett will line up with Subway later this month for the main tour, Harrison will probably ride for the H&J Smiths team, although there is other interest in him.

"It's good to come here knowing that we've got the big tour later on," Kennett said. "It means there's not too much pressure in this race, although there are some good riders here."

Both juniors are confident they can withstand the rigours of the Tour of Southland, a 900km grind which has caused much more mature riders to go wobbly at the knees.

Whether they can finish the week may depend on the weather and what roles their teams give them, Harrison said.

Meanwhile, Kennett is looking to the individual pursuit and the scratch race when he makes his senior debut for New Zealand on the track in Glasgow soon after the Tour of Southland.

"Glasgow should be good. Hopefully I'll get through Southland healthy and then switch focus to the track. The main reason they want me to go is to get UCI points so we can get spots at world champs. Hopefully I can do the job. It's pretty cool to be doing it basically as an under-19 rider."

A strong ride from Alexandra's Liam Aitcheson saw him take the yellow jersey after two of the five stages in the men's under-19 section of the Yunca-sponsored junior tour yesterday.

After Kennettt had won the opening stage, an individual time trial around Teretonga Park, Aitcheson dominated the kermesse-style second stage on the motor circuit, going solo for the second half of the race to win and take a 6sec lead overall over Kennett, with Harrison and Southland's Josh Haggerty 17sec back.

Cassie Cameron holds a 2sec lead in the under-19 women's race from stage two winner Alice Hay, with Alice Riddell 4sec in arrears.

Holly Edmonston and Daniel Fitter lead the under-17 girls and boys sections, respectively.

Tori Saunders and Campbell Stewart are leading the under-15 girls and boys races, while Britney Kerr is the best of the under-13 girls.

The tour continues with two stages based around Te Tipua today, before the inner-city criterium and Grove Bush stages on Sunday.

The Southland Times