Australian invader Harry Stogdale could be the bolter to take the men's A grade title at the Tour of Timaru speed skating event, but you will not hear him telling you that.
The talented 17-year-old, who finished eighth in the 15,000 metre elimination race at the World Junior Championships in Italy last year, is keen to get on the fast Caroline Bay skate track and improve his sprinting skills.
He is one of 60 athletes who will compete in the four-day event which starts today and is seen as a major rival to defending champion Antony Nalder.
More than 30 South Canterbury skaters will take part, and three Slovakian skaters and a German will add an international flavour, along with Stogdale.
Stogdale, of Melbourne, said he was excited to get the chance to compete. "The track is a fast track, a new track and I think I need more racing experience and the chance to race against some strong locals will also be good.
"I'd like to win but that's not the main goal . . . I want to have fun and enjoy the event. A win would be a bonus but it could be realistic."
Stogdale has been skating for six years, and has won three junior titles and earned a second placing in the open men's category at the Australian National Skating Championships, which finished on Sunday. "I'm still a bit tired from that . . . still a bit sore."
He was happy with his form, given that his top 10 finish in Italy was beyond his expectations.
"I was hoping for one top 20 finish but I got three top twenties and one top 10."
Stogdale said tomorrow's Steeplechase event at Mainland Brewery would be a highlight.
The Tour of Timaru has attracted eight of the top 10 men's finishers in the 10,00m points race at the National Road Championships.
The racing will start with sprints at the Caroline Bay track this morning before the skaters race at Mainland Brewery, Waimate and Timaru's International Motor Raceway over the next few days.
- The Timaru Herald