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Burnett leads major cycle race in Canada

Josh Burnett leads the Tour de Beauce in Canada after the queen stage win
Josh Burnett celebrates the win in Canada today PHOTO: BRIAN HODES VELO IMAGES

Former Tour of Southland cycling winner, Josh Burnett has grabbed a stage win and the leader’s yellow jersey for his MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project professional team in Canada.


Burnett’s win on the queen stage of the Tour de Beauce elevated him to the lead with two stages remaining in the prestigious tour on the North American professional circuit.


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It proved a major coup for New Zealand’s only UCI cycling squad, when Burnett went clear with the favourites on the lower slopes of Mont Megantic in the 169km stage in Quebec. He pushed on up the 5.3km climb that peaked at 15 per cent gradient, and cleared out to win the stage by 26 seconds.


The win also earned him the leader’s yellow jersey and a 44 second advantage for overall honours with two stages remaining. Burnett have also moved up to second in the sprint points jersey and third ahead of teammate Marshall Erwood in the king of the mountains jersey.


“I am really stoked to finish off all the hard work by my teammates with a big win on such an iconic climb. It was full gas from the gun today, but the boys made sure I had the easiest ride possible, it is a day I will always remember,” said Burnett.


MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project General Manager James Canny said that the stage had been a major goal for the team and Burnett.


“To see the guys back Josh and execute the plan to perfection was a dream result, a win like this pays back the hard work of all involved,” he said.


Team captain Hayden Strong was impressed with the team’s efforts.


“We have a lot of young guys on the squad with many not having experienced this level of professional racing before. To see them learning and growing as riders has been impressive. Their individual ambitions have been put aside to support the team cause.”


The MitoQ-sponsored squad comprises Burnett, Strong, former international mountain biker, Craig Oliver (Canterbury), Oli Watson-Palmer (Central Otago), James Gardner (Otago) and Southlanders Strong and Marshall Erwood. 


The penultimate stage is 70km criterium in Quebec City with the tour finale a 122km inner-city street circuit in Saint-Georges.


The last New Zealander to win the Tour de Beauce was cycling legend Graeme Miller in 1990 with a number noted World Tour riders having won this prestigious race.

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