TOUR LEAD CHANGES HAND AFTER DAY OF STRONG WINDS
2/11/15 - Roman van Uden survived a brutal day to win the opening stage of the 2015 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
The PowerNet rider was rewarded with the yellow jersey for tomorrow’s second stage to Bluff, his second stage win in Southland and the lead in the Harcourts sprint ace classification.
The Aucklander was part of a five-man breakaway which escaped less than 10km into the 160km stage from Invercargill to Lumsden.
Despite cross and headwinds which were amongst the most challenging seen on the tour in recent years, the group of van Uden, Marc Ryan (Kia Motors-Ascot Park), Nick Miller (Barry Stewart Builders), Frank Sutton (Chesters Racing Team) and Joe Chapman (Creation Signs-L&M Group Ricoh) were able to defy the peloton, stretching their lead out past seven minutes.
After Sutton and Chapman dropped back either side of Nightcaps, Miller also fell away after securing enough points to claim the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountains jersey. That left van Uden and Ryan to try and take their attack through to its conclusion.
“We were doing 20kmh into the headwinds for a very long time. It was absolutely horrible,” van Uden said.
“This is one of the hardest days I’ve had on a bike, it’s right up there with elite nationals. The group started to disintegrate slowly after about 80km and it was just Marc and I left with about 40km to go. The headwind into Mossburn probably took us an hour, it was brutal.”
The breakaway pair knew that if they could get to Mossburn and turn with the howling tailwind they should be able to stay away over the final 20km.
“That was the goal - just get to Mossburn. I figured it was hell back in the peloton too, and it sounds like it was. We knew they wouldn’t be able to make too many gains with the tailwind. Marc is so strong, I wouldn’t have made it without him.”
Ryan didn't go home empty-handed, his Kia Motors-Ascot Park team taking the lead in the Wensley's Cycles teams classification and he was also awarded the stuff.co.nz Most Combative rider jersey.
With more challenging weather forecast for tomorrow’s second stage finishing on Bluff HIll, van Uden was preparing himself for more pain.
“It’s going to be the same with probably a lot more directional change. We had 100km of headwind today and tomorrow it will move around a bit. That road out of Invercargill to Bluff is going to be hell.”
Two years ago van Uden was presented with the yellow jersey following his stage win in Gore, but had to hand it over to Cam Karwowski after the results were confirmed.
Getting a chance to lead New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race is something he is looking forward to.
“It’s great for the team. I had a chance to wear yellow a couple of years ago and I missed out by one second. That was pretty disappointing, so this will be awesome. The team is pretty tired, but I’d imagine the whole peloton is pretty tired.”
Hamilton’s Ryan Christensen (Olivers Real Food Racing) leads the Henderson Construction under 23 classification, with Placemakers’ Brent Allnut (Christchurch) holding the Stonewood Homes silver jersey for riders 40 years and over.
Stage one - Southland District Council 160km Invercargill to Lumsden: Roman van Uden (PowerNet) 4:51.19 1; Marc Ryan (Kia Motors-Ascot Park) @2sec 2; Eric Marcotte (Kia Motors-Ascot Park) @1.33 3.
SBS Bank General classification: Roman van Uden (PowerNet) @4:56.02 1; Marc Ryan (Kia Motors-Ascot Park) @9sec 2; Eric Marcotte (Kia Motors-Ascot Park) @1.42 3.
Wensley’s Team classification: Kia Motors-Ascot Park 14:42.17 1; PowerNet @59sec 2; Barry Stewart Builders @5.35 3.
Harcourts Sprint classification: Roman van Uden (PowerNet) 24 points; Joe Chapman (Creation Signs-L&M Group Ricoh) 21 2; Marc Ryan (Kia Motors-Ascot Park) 19 3.
Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountains: Nick Miller (Barry Stewart Builders) 23 points; Joe Chapman (Creation Signs-L&M Group Ricoh) 7 2; Frank Sutton (Chesters Racing Team) 6 3.
Riders face 155.3km Stage 2, sponsored by BDO Invercargill, from Invercargill to Drummond and returning to finish with the formidable Bluff Hill Climb.