Cyclist Hubbard faces challenge for Milford title

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Tom Hubbard
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
THE COMPETITION: Luke Macpherson, in front, Tom Hubbard and Brad Tuhi compete in last year's Milford Mountain Classic.

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Canterbury cyclist Tom Hubbard will face a stern challenge in his defence of the Milford Mountain Classic title tomorrow.

Hubbard outsprinted Southland rider Luke Macpherson for the win in last year's race, which was shortened from 120km to 100km because of concerns over rockfalls around the Homer Tunnel.

In this year's Distinction Hotels-sponsored third edition of the event, the course will return to the organisers' original intention, starting at Milford and ending on the Te Anau lakefront.

Hubbard will have a battle at the sharp end of the race from former national road champion James Williamson, BikeNZ track cyclist Cameron Karwowski and outstanding Southland junior Josh Haggerty.

The women's field includes former New Zealand track representative Sequoia Cooper and Vanderkitten professional Sophie Williamson, who finished fifth in her senior debut at the national road championships in Christchurch earlier this month.

Nearly 200 entries across the individual and team categories had been received this week, with plenty of interest in the new Ricoh-sponsored Homer Hundy race, which starts from the Homer Tunnel.

Race director Matt Sillars said with entries being taken up until noon tomorrow, numbers will at least equal last year's 225-strong field.

Sillars said there had been recent scaling work done around the western portal of the Homer Tunnel and he wasn't expecting any of the disruptions that caused last year's race to be shortened.

The forecast for tomorrow had improved as the week progressed, with rain not arriving, hopefully, until later in the afternoon, Sillars said.

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