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Conor White savours unexpected series victory in Arizona

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Sprint finish: Conor White, right, snatches victory on the second stage of the Valley of the Sun Race Series after a sprint finish in the Road Race. (Photograph by Resul Kurtbedin Photography)

Conor White surpassed even his own expectations after clinching victory in the Valley of the Sun Race Series.

Building on an encouraging start to his season in the United States, which included a podium finish in the California Criterium Series this month, the 23-year-old Bermudian enjoyed even greater success during the three-race series in Arizona.

Despite competing on a borrowed Time Trial bike, White opened the event with an impressive fifth-place finish, which left him just 19 seconds adrift of the leaders in the general classification heading into the second stage, a six-lap 95-mile road circuit.

There, he enjoyed his breakthrough win as he outsprinted his rivals to the line.

Pedal power: Conor White, right, snatches victory on the second stage of the Valley of the Sun Race Series after a sprint finish in the Road Race. (Photograph by Resul Kurtbedin Photography)

That success came with a crucial ten-second bonus, which gave White seven-second advantage at the top of the standings over nearest rival Stephen Vogel, with the Project Echelon Racing rider left to rue getting caught up in a crash in the final 3-kilometres of the race.

Having been handed the initiative, White positioned himself in the leading group for the final stage and avoided danger to cross the line among the main pack in 27th place and given the same time as the leader.

Podium delight: Conor White who clinched victory in the overall general classification competing in Men’s Pro 1/2 Division of the three-race series in Arizona

“I didn’t expect to get the overall victory but I’m delighted that I did,” said White.

“It’s funny because I left my Time-Trial bike in Bermuda because I didn’t think I’d need it, but thankfully I managed to borrow one a few weeks back and it worked out pretty well in the opening race, which I was really happy about.

“I managed to hold a really good position in the Road Race and then when the time came for the break, I followed the first guy. I stayed patient and then I made my move at the last moment and came round him on the line.

“What made it even better is that I also got a ten-second time bonus which gave me the lead general classification. To top that off, some of the guys challenging at the top of the standings got caught up in a crash near the end. Obviously that was disappointing for those guys but it was great for me.

“On the final day, the plan was to always stay out of trouble and make sure I protected my lead. Every time my rivals attacked, I went with them. On the last lap I made sure I was in the peloton as to not lose any time overall. Although I finished 27th or so, I maintained my seven-second advantage which gave me the overall victory.

“It turned out to be a really great race series.”

White will be aiming to build on his latest triumph in a three-day race series in Texas this weekend as he continues to maintain his form ahead of representing Bermuda at the Pan American Road Cycling Championship, in Panama on April 23.

“The victory at the weekend was definitely unexpected but it was great because it shows what level I’m at already before the Pan Am Championships in April,” he added.

“It was a really good test, I managed to do better than expected and I’m really pleased with the form that I’m in at the moment. This weekend is another three-day series and then I’m planning on competing in another two-day series afterwards.

“It is helping me to build towards the Pan Am Championships, which are my main goal at the momen and that is a qualifying event for the Pan American Games [ Santiago, Chile, from October 20 to November 5].

“They, in turn, are a qualifying event for the Olympic Games next year and while it’s a tall order, that is definitely where my greater ambition is. I know that will be tough but I’d like to think it’s not impossible.”

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Published February 21, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated February 21, 2023 at 8:50 pm)

Conor White savours unexpected series victory in Arizona

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