1/11/2010 - The talent-stacked Calder Stewart Bike NZ combination team threw down the gauntlet early on the opening stage of the PowerNet Tour of Southland today – and rivals Share the Road responded in emphatic fashion.
Those predicting the 54th Tour will prove a two-horse race between the two highly-rated teams were not disappointed as the coveted yellow jersey swapped between them.
Powering through the opening stage time trial around Queens Park in Invercargill in 9min 47.20sec, Calder Stewart earned a staggering 11sec lead over Subway Avanti, with Share the Road another 0.17sec shy – the only three teams to post sub 10min times.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Hayden Roulston donned the yellow jersey for the 81.63km stage to the top of Bluff Hill.
With Pure Black Racing’s Roman van Uden leading the charge, an early break of six riders held their own for the majority of the stage before the chasing peloton reeled them approaching the seaside port. Only Southland Vehicle Sales rider Alex Meenhorst, of Auckland, managed to resist – albeit briefly – to start the gut-busting ascent ahead of the pack.
But it was Share the Road’s Jeremy Yates, of Hastings, who claimed bragging rights – and ultimately the yellow jersey – at the top of the formidable climb, followed closely by team-mate Jack Bauer, of Nelson, and Roulston.
The win thrust Share the Road into the overall lead and Yates into yellow for tomorrow’s 165km trek from Invercargill to Gore – the longest stage of the six-day Tour.
“It was just a matter of timing it to make sure you had a little bit of gas left at the bottom of the climb – I knew I had good legs,” Yates, who won the tough K2 event on the Coromandel Peninsula on Saturday, said.
“As soon as we hit the climb the old instincts took over and I just gave it everything.”
Share the Road’s intentions were reinforced with Yates team-mates, including Tour legend Gordon McCauley, of Auckland, also finishing well.
“We have a strong team so on a hill-top finish like this it’s probably almost to be expected … but I definitely didn’t expect we’d do this well,” he said.
Roulston was unfazed at losing the lead.
“It doesn’t worry me if we’ve got yellow or not … as long as we’ve got it at the end,” he said.
“We’ve got guys of all sorts of different form here – on paper we’re a very strong team but Hendy’s (Greg Henderson) had a very big year and just come back from a break, I’ve had a break and Jeremy’s (Vennell) had a break. As the Tour goes on, we’ll get stronger and stronger by the day and I’m pretty confident we’re in with a good shot here.”
Bauer snatched the King of the Mountain jersey, van Uden’s efforts earned him the Harcourts Sprint Ace, and Benchmark Homes young gun Daniel Barry secured the PSIS Under-23.
For full Stage Two results click here.
1/11/2010 - An emphatic statement from Calder Stewart/BikeNZ in the Tour-opening Teams Time Trial around Queens Park in Invercargill this morning. The super star line up which includes Pro-Tour riders Hayden Roulston and Greg Henderson blitzed around the two lap circuit in a blistering time of 9'47'20. Subway-Avanti follows 11 seconds behind with Share The Road also breaking the 10 minute mark in third spot.
For full Stage One results click here.