2/11/2012 - Node 4-Subaru’s Daniel Barry claimed a photo-finish stage win over Calder Stewart’s Hayden Roulston in the PowerNet Tour of Southland in Gore, but it will be Bissell Pro Cycling’s Carter Jones who will wear yellow on the final day of a hotly-contested Tour.
With the individual time trial and final stage from Winton to Invercargill to come, this year’s Tour promises a tight finish, with Jones just 4 seconds ahead of Mike Northey (Node 4-Subaru) and 48 seconds ahead of Taylor Gunman (Pure Black Racing).
Today’s route was a tough 167km and riders faced strong winds in the opening and finishing 30km. Barry and Roulston were part of a four-strong break that also included Share the Road’s Fraser Gough and Ascot Park Hotel-Kia Motors-NZ Bike Magazine’s Clinton Avery.
The four did a power of work on the front, making the break about 30km into the stage and maintaining a lead over the peloton for the next 120km. With about 20km to go Gough dropped off the pace, and Avery did the same not long after which left Roulston and Barry in a fight for line honours.
Barry, of Christchurch and riding his fourth PowerNet Tour of Southland, eventually took the stage win but it came down to a photo-finish to get it.
“After losing the yellow jersey, we had to use today to try and get Mike (Northey) back up there,” Barry said.
“We just wanted to put the Bissell guys under pressure so when it (the peloton) started splitting and Hayden Roulston, Clinton Avery and Fraser Gough got up the front I went across and put us in a good position for Mike to have an easier ride.”
The move paid off, with Northey now just 4 seconds back from Jones.
Roulston, a four-time Tour winner, said he knew he had to attack during today’s stage.
“It was a tough day,” he said.
“The whole course was just unforgiving. I was a bit surprised going through Gore where it wasn’t so hard, but going up the back near Riversdale, that was tough. There was a huge amount of energy required today.
“We have had a great week so far. We’ve got good young guys down here and we want them to take something out of this. They are the future of our sport.”
Jones, 23, finished the stage more than 2 minutes back from Barry and Roulston but, while his Tour lead has narrowed, he is still sitting in yellow ahead of the final day.
Bissell manager Glen Mitchell was confident Jones had the ability to take the yellow jersey all the way.
“We need these guys to put in the best time trial they can,” he said.
“I’m confident in Carter’s ability, he definitely time trials very well. I don’t think he will lose any time, he could even gain a little bit. The guys have got six days of racing in their legs, so you get to a time trial and that’s pretty crucial.”
“This is effectively the last big day to really get out there. We knew guys like Hayden Roulston and Heath Blackgrove (PowerNet) would be aggressive, so we just had to do everything we could to keep those riders under check. It was fine for Hayden to get up the road, we just had to make sure we monitored that time gap.”
Jones will have the luxury of starting tomorrow’s time trial last, which could play to his advantage.
If Jones does take yellow after tomorrow’s individual time trial in Winton and final stage into Invercargill, he would be come just the third international rider to win the Tour in its 56 year history.
Share the Road’s Sam Witmitz has secured the Harcourts Sprint Ace jersey after another good day and the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain jersey sits comfortably with Joe Chapman (Creation Signs-L&M Racing). Gunman has a 1minute 38second lead in The Co-operative Bank U23 classification and Node 4-Subaru leads the team classification after another strong day.