An utterly courageous effort by Pure Black Racing’s Tim Gudsell not only earned him an impressive stage win but thrust him into contention for the 2011 PowerNet Tour of Southland crown.
Heading into today’s the 167km stage from Invercargill to Gore, the Te Awamutu rider was 2min 21sec off the pace in 9th place overall but now trails PowerNet’s Josh Atkins by just 1min 5sec in the yellow jersey battle. Ascot Park Hotel’s Patrick Bevan, of Rotorua, is just 4sec further adrift and also continues his tussle with Atkins for the Co-Operative Bank Under-23 jersey.
With just two stages remaining tomorrow, including the addition of an individual time trial at Winton, the 2011 race remains wide open.
But if the tenacious exploits his PowerNet team-mates displayed today are an appropriate gauge – and their legs hold strong for just one more day – 19-year-old Atkins could become the youngest victor in the Tour’s 56-year history.
“It was a super hard day on the bike and I owe it all to my PowerNet team-mates. They did an amazing job today and were on the front for 160km and helping me the whole way,” Atkins said.
“When I was riding in those crosswinds and thought I wouldn’t make it, I just had to go super deep for them. The boys give me a heap of crap every night but I’m pretty flattered at how much work they’re doing for me.
The time-trial now looms as the critical factor.
“I’m just going to go all out for that and ride as hard as I can and hopefully go into the final stage with a good advantage,” Atkins said.
As riders struggled in squally conditions from the outset, Olphert Contracting’s Jeremy Inglis had the most apt description.
“It looked like the field had been hit by a grenade and splintered in all directions,” he said.
Gudsell, who is preparing to marry finance Sarah in just three weeks, said motivation was abundant.
“There were lots of things running through my head when I was solo with 25km to go. It was extremely tough but as I saw the time gaps going out it gave me more and more motivation to push harder and harder. By the end I’d turned myself inside-out to get a much time as I could,” he said.
“There were a lot of things motivating me. We’ve had a frustrating week as a team. We banked everything on trying to win the yellow jersey and we didn’t worry about stage wins or anything else other than that but then we struck a bit of bad luck.
“Personally I’ve had a fairly successful year but I’m still just coming back from a couple of years of numerous injuries and this is just a way to say thank you to all the people who have put up with the hard times.”
Barry Stewart Builders-GMC rider Gordon McCauley, of Auckland, has an unassailable 71-point lead over Share the Road’s Chris Macic in the Harcourts Sprint Ace standings.
The Hydralink-Jesco King of the Mountain jersey now belongs to Joe Chapman, of Dunedin, who has maintained a 32-point advantage over Creation Signs-L & M Group Racing team-mate Brendon Sharratt, of Wanganui.
“It was more just surviving today … hopefully we can play a few cards tomorrow and try and get a stage win around Queens Park,” Chapman said.
“We’ve got quite a fast guy in Aaron Gate so the whole team will get behind him now we’ve got this jersey sewn up. We’re not just going to sit back and relax now, we’re going to fight to the finish.”
In the teams’ classification, Pure Black Racing has an imposing lead of more than 18min over PowerNet.
1. Tim Gudsell (PBR) 4h02m02s; 2. Jason Allen (CST) at 01m06s; 3. Chris Macic (STR) at 01m06s; 4. Marc Ryan (CST) at 01m06s; 5. Shem Rodger (PBR) at 01m06s; 6. Patrick Bevin (APH) at 01m06s; 7. Glen Chadwick (PBR) at 01m06s; 8. Josh Atkins (PNT) at 01m06s; 9. Andi Bajc (STH) at 02m34s; 10. Scott Lyttle (PBR) at 02m34s; 11. Clinton Avery (APH) at 02m34s; 12. Alexander Ray (OWA) at 02m50s; 13. Paul Odlin (SUB) at 02m50s; 14. Joseph Lewis (KMT) at 02m50s; 15. Jeremy Yates (STR) at 02m50s; 16. Mike Olheiser (JPW) at 02m50s; 17. Dion Smith (OWA) at 02m50s; 18. Brad Evans (OCL) at 02m58s; 19. Nick Jowsey (UHM) at 03m02s; 20. Gordon McCauley (BSB) at 03m02s; 21. Tom Scully (PNT) at 03m02s; 22. Danny Pulbrook (RDS) at 03m02s; 23. Greg Taylor (UHM) at 03m02s; 24. Sam Horgan (SUB) at 03m02s; 25. Joseph Cooper (MCP) at 03m07s;
1. Josh Atkins (PNT) 19h38m25s; 2. Tim Gudsell (PBR) at 01m05s; 3. Patrick Bevin (APH) at 01m09s; 4. Chris Macic (STR) at 01m19s; 5. Shem Rodger (PBR) at 02m35s; 6. Scott Lyttle (PBR) at 02m58s; 7. Andi Bajc (STH) at 03m06s; 8. Jeremy Yates (STR) at 03m09s; 9. Marc Ryan (CST) at 03m45s; 10. Mike Olheiser (JPW) at 04m03s; 11. Paul Odlin (SUB) at 04m06s; 12. Dion Smith (OWA) at 04m59s; 13. Joseph Cooper (MCP) at 05m28s; 14. Clinton Avery (APH) at 05m37s; 15. Danny Pulbrook (RDS) at 06m11s; 16. Tom Scully (PNT) at 06m34s; 17. Greg Taylor (UHM) at 10m15s; 18. Alexander Ray (OWA) at 10m42s; 19. Glen Chadwick (PBR) at 11m47s; 20. Sam Horgan (SUB) at 14m52s; 21. Gordon McCauley (BSB) at 16m02s; 22. Shane Archbold (PNT) at 16m30s; 23. Brad Evans (OCL) at 17m29s; 24. Joseph Lewis (KMT) at 18m15s; 25. Daniel Barry (PBR) at 19m35s;
1. Pure Black Racing 59h00m25s; 2. PowerNet at 18m02s; 3. Share The Road at 22m45s; 4. Ascot Park Hotel at 26m37s; 5. Calder Stewart at 27m43s; 6. H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus at 29m16s; 7. Subway Pro Cycling at 30m59s; 8. Ultimo-HGM at 58m34s; 9. Kia Motors at 1h02m48s; 10. Radio Sport at 1h38m46s;
1. Gordon McCauley (BSB) 119; 2. Chris Macic (STR) 48; 3. Oliver Harding-Sheath (PTL) 28; 4. Clinton Avery (APH) 18; 5. Cameron Karwowski (PNT) 17; 6. Tom Scully (PNT) 16; 7. Brad Evans (OCL) 15; 8. Jeremy Yates (STR) 12; 9. Karl Murray (STR) 12; 10. Alex Meenhorst (KMT) 11;
1. Joe Chapman (CSL) 48; 2. Brendan Sharratt (CSL) 16; 3. Jeremy Yates (STR) 14; 4. Patrick Bevin (APH) 14; 5. Chris Macic (STR) 12; 6. Tom Hubbard (HCL) 12; 7. Shem Rodger (PBR) 10; 8. Josh Atkins (PNT) 10; 9. Aaron Strong (APH) 10; 10. Cameron Karwowski (PNT) 6;