Hubbard sprints best to claim Classic glory
Tom Hubbard, of Canterbury, sprinted away along the Te Anau lakefront to claim the Milford Mountain Classic title on Saturday.
The former Subway Pro Cycling rider proved the stronger finisher against fast-improving Southland rider Luke MacPherson.
The pair had ridden the second half of the 100km race from the Homer Hut to Te Anau together after losing their other breakaway partner Brad Tuhi.
The race had to be shortened because of concerns over rock falls around the Homer Tunnel, but still featured a tough ascent over the divide, which quickly sorted out where the winner would come from.
"It was down to three of us after 10km," Hubbard, who collected $1000 for the win in the Distinction Hotel-sponsored race, said.
"It was quite a hard climb and we just rode tempo up that. Brad got the KOM and then we just knuckled down and established a good lead.
"I would have liked to have [gone solo] at about the halfway stage where there's a few climbs, but I didn't feel that great today so I was lucky to have some help.
"The two of us battled it out to the end, and I was lucky to have the sprint legs over him."
MacPherson's second place represented the biggest result of his short cycling career.
The 33-year-old, who played rugby at Southland Boys' High School and Lincoln University, started riding only when he returned to Southland, less than three years ago.
"I was looking for something to do, I had been overseas for a couple of years and hadn't done a lot of sport or activity over there. When I came back to Southland, I went down to the velodrome and got into cycling and have really enjoyed it," MacPherson said.
A BNZ agri-business partner, MacPherson has been working through the grades in local races over the past couple of seasons before Saturday's A-grade success.
Glenn McLeay was the first masters rider home, in fourth place overall, and Karin Aitken was the first woman to finish.
Former Stags lock Wayne Miller took out the 65km Eglinton Challenge from Southland's Alistair Green and Logan Black. Sam Kopae was the first woman home, in sixth place overall.
Milford Mountain Classic: Tom Hubbard 2:23:52, 1; Luke MacPherson 2:23:52, 2; Brad Tuhi 2:27:47, 3.
Eglinton Challenge: Wayne Miller 1:51:41, 1; Alistair Green 1:51:42, 2; Logan Black 1:51:43, 3.
The Southland Times