Talented young Nelson rider Ari Scott emerged as a genuine prospect when he showed strength on the hills and perfect timing to finish third in the Abel Tasman Cycling Challenge on Saturday.
The 16-year-old was not expecting to feature in a strong line-up of elite and under-23 riders in the 155km race from Richmond to the top of Sandy Bay Hill in Marahau and back.
But the Nelson College student surprised everyone, including himself, when he rode across to the three-rider breakaway and then challenged for the lead in the final stages.
Ari made a big move on the return journey, riding across to Team Skoda’s Joel Yates, who had been joined by Brett Grieve and Joshua Aldridge just out of Motueka.
The four riders stayed in front of the chasing peloton with Joel making his winning break entering Hill St to win in 3hr 53min 56sec with Brett second in 3hr 54min 16sec, just two seconds clear of Ari.
“I could see that Joel had gone and the Team Skoda guys were sitting on the front and weren’t going to chase him, so I knew I had to go,” Ari says. “I’d felt pretty good on the hills so I went for it and managed to get across with the two other riders.”
“We were together until Hill St and I attacked, but Joel just rolled over the top of me and took off. But I was really pleased with third – that’s easily my best result against elite riders.”
Although Ari was surprised by his ride, he says he has “improved really quickly” since teaming up with UK-based coach Sam Lindsay.
“I used to do my own thing but now my training is more structured and scientific and it’s making a difference. I’m also using a power meter now so I can train in the right zone, so it all helps.”
Ari, who was sponsored by Guytons and receives support from Village Cycles, won’t have any time to reflect on his success as he heads north this weekend for the 160km Round Taupo Cycle Challenge.
After that, he will be back into his own age group in the Junior Tour of Manawatu from December 9-10.
Nelson riders also featured in the age group results of Saturday’s race with Warrick Spence finishing fifth overall and winning the silver category in 3hr 57min 15sec.
Seamus Ryan won the silver-plus category in 4hr 1min 46sec while Niamh Fisher-Black won the junior girls race in 4hr 23min 11sec, with Jannine Blackmore of Christchurch the winning female in 4hr 17min 50sec.
Richmond’s Henry Jaine won the inaugural ITM Super TT Mountainbike race held in conjunction with the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge, ahead of Waimea College student Cameron Jones.
Susie Wood won the women’s race which featured four laps around Silvan Forest Mountainbike Park.