Classic still stern test for climbers

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
Jeremy Yates
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
Jeremy Yates after winning the 2012 Milford Mountain Classic.

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The second edition of the Milford Mountain Classic may have been shortened due to rockfall dangers, but it's longer term future looks more stable than the hillsides around the Homer tunnel.

While those who have trained through the summer for the full 120km race and it's lung-busting first 20km climb, the decision to shorten the course will be disappointing.

However, with the race start now shifted to the eastern end of the tunnel, The Divide will still provide a test for the climbers' legs before the race heads towards Te Anau.

The clash with the New Zealand Cycle Classic, being staged in Manawatu, and the race's proximity to next week's national elite track championships has limited its ability to entice top riders.

Last year's men's winner, Jeremy Yates, has since retired from competitive cycling as he looks to develop his building business.

Invercargill's Luke Macpherson has been mentioned as a potential dark horse for the $1000 men's prize.

However, the course change has altered the nature of the race and will bring some other riders into contention, including the likes of Brehan Cairns and Brad Tuhi.

Te Anau local Logan Edgar will be a sentimental favourite despite only recently returning to the bike after his university studies.

Promising female rider Reta Trotman has withdrawn from the event as she looks ahead to her first season racing as an amateur in Germany, which has thrown the women's race wide open.

Race organisers are pleased with the number of entrants this year, with a total of about 250 riders across the Classic and 60km Eglinton Challenge.

While organisers would obviously prefer to grow the race, which raises funds for Fiordland College, to over 300 entries, it should remain sustainable at this year's level.

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- The Southland Times

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